BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots placed Brandon Spikes on injured reserve on Monday, ending the linebacker’s season just days before the team will host its playoff opener at Gillette Stadium.
Spikes, 26, finished third on the team in tackles this season, his fourth after being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft. He recorded 134 total tackles, according to the Patriots.
Spikes had been battling a knee injury for more than two months, as The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young reported in late December that the injury would require surgery once the season ended. Spikes then aggravated the injury in the regular-season finale against the Bills.
Albert Breer of the NFL Network joined Andy Gresh & Scott Zolak Tuesday to preview the slate of Divisional Round games across the league, but to also weigh in on the loss of Brandon Spikes.
For a team that is already decimated with injuries, the hits just keep on coming with the Spikes news.
“I knew he was playing through something, but I didn’t think it would land him on IR. I know there are those who don’t think it’s that big a deal given the way he’s been playing, but I disagree – it’s a very big deal.”
“This late in the game you can’t get anybody that’s commensurately close to come in and play that spot. It puts a heck of a lot more pressure on Dont’a Hightower. I think Dane Fletcher is a nice guy, but he’s a special-teamer and nothing more. There’s a reason the guy doesn’t play all the time,” said Gresh.
Gresh believes there’s no one player on the roster that can replace a Brandon Spikes, and Scott Zolak agrees. Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are going to have to get creative in their schemes to help fill that void.
“You can change up some things, maybe you go more 3-4. Obviously you’re going to go to more of a four-man nickel front. You’ve got some healthy safeties, so maybe you experiment a little bit. I wouldn’t be shocked to see three safeties on second-and-long, or third-and-short,” said Zolak.
So while the Spikes injury hurts (pun intended), the Patriots should at least be thankful they’re playing the Colts and not the other two AFC teams left standing – according to Bert Breer.
“Of the other three teams that are left in the AFC right now, you’re playing against the one that’s least equipped to exploit what you’ve lost in Brandon Spikes. The Broncos and the Chargers with [Knowshon] Moreno and [Ryan] Mathews would be more equipped to exploit what the Patriots are missing with Spikes than the Colts are.”
Spikes becomes the fifth key Patriots player to land on injured reserve this season, joining fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
Listen below for the full discussion: