Monday, January 6, 2014

Next man up, again: Patriots lose Spikes for playoffs


The New England Patriots have fallen victim to season-ending injury after season-ending injury to the middle of their defense. So what's another?

The team announced Monday that it placed linebacker Brandon Spikes on injured reserve, ending the the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent's season.

Spikes had been battling an ailing knee for quite some time but played in all 16 games of the regular season. His IR designation comes after defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, as well as linebacker Jerod Mayo, were lost for the season earlier in the fall.

Spikes has played well over half of the Patriots' defensive snaps this season, but if there's a silver lining, it's that New England will be facing a pass-happy Indianapolis Colts team this week. If they win, they'll take on either the San Diego Chargers or the Denver Broncos, both of whom will air it out plenty, as well.

Regardless, the Patriots will look to rookie Jamie Collins and veteran Dane Fletcher to fill Spikes' void.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that he likes how the team has handled the next-man-up mentality this year, particularly in terms of effort.

"They've prepared well, they've competed hard," Belichick said, via "Some weeks it's worked out, some weeks it hasn't but we've been in every game right down to the final possession, right down to the wire. Sometimes we've made the plays we needed to make to win and a couple examples we came up a little bit short.

"But I thought the competitiveness and the resolve, the effort from the team, were good. It wasn't always perfectly done. I'm not saying we always played right or anything but we always competed hard and put a real high effort on the field."

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