But good news is on the way for Bill Belichick: Collins returned to practice on Friday.
Just a short time before the team heads to Colorado for a prime-time matchup against the Broncos, Collins made his way back into the mix. According to the Boston Herald, Collins still remains a long shot to play. The Friday workout is simply Belichick's modus operandi when it comes to players returning from a significant injury or illness.
The Patriots never confirmed exactly what Collins' illness was and officially listed him as doubtful for Sunday. New England will also be without wide receiver Danny Amendola, who will not travel with the team to Denver as he deals with a knee injury, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday.
Belichick's defense is multiple enough to survive without Collins, but his versatility is precisely why he's the perfect fit in New England's defense. Before the emergence of the Carolina Panthers, the Patriots arguably had the best linebacking corps in football. Depending on how quickly Collins returns to the field, they could find themselves back on top again soon.
Here are the other injuries we're tracking:
- Tony Romo's comeback lasted less than two games. The Cowboys' star quarterback is done for the rest of the season after fracturing his left clavicle during their 33-14 Thanksgiving loss to the Panthers. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports Romo won't need surgery and is facing an eight-week recovery timetable.
- The Falcons announced that fantasy darling Devonta Freeman (concussion) will miss Sunday's showdown with the Minnesota Vikings. This is a big loss for slumping Falcons squad that desperately needs a win over Minnesota to keep pace in the tight NFC wild-card race. Atlanta also announced wideout Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) and kicker Matt Bryant (quad) will not play.
- Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters that quarterback Case Keenum hasn't yet cleared concussion protocol. The plan for now is to start Nick Foles but they'll see how Keenum feels Saturday. Rapoport reported that the Rams plan to start Foles and rule Keenum out. In addition to Keenum, defensive end Robert Quinn (hip/back) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (knee) are listed as questionable.
- The Bengals have placed second-year cornerback Darqueze Dennard on the season-ending injured reserve with shoulder damage that will require surgery. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Dennard's labrum is intact but ligaments around the shoulder need repair, per a source informed of the cover man's situation. Rapoport was told that a full recovery is expected for the 2014 first-round pick who appeared in all 10 games this season.
- The Chiefs could be without two key playmakers for their matchup against the Bills. Running back Charcandrick West (hamstring) and tight end Travis Kelce (groin) are questionable. West missed all three practices this week, while Kelce was a limited participant Friday. De'Anthony Thomas and Dee Ford are both out for K.C.
- The Cardinals could be without Michael Floyd again, as the wideout is questionable for Sunday's Niners game with an injured hamstring. Safety Deone Bucannon (concussion), guard Jonathan Cooper (knee) and cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle) also are questionable, while defensive linemen Cory Redding (ankle) and Frostee Rucker (ankle) are out.