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NFL Films producer Greg Cosell discusses impact of Rob Ninkovich, Brandon Spikes on Patriots defense

03.01.12 at 3:58 pm ET
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In the eyes of NFL Films producer Greg Cosell, Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Spikes are two unheralded parts of the Patriots defense. (AP)

Had the opportunity to sit down with longtime NFL Films producer Greg Cosell (who watches more game film than just about anyone) at the combine last week in Indianapolis, and we talked a lot about the past, present and possible future of the Patriots, including what he thought of a couple of New England linebackers, Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Spikes.

“I thought two guys who played really well down the stretch and helped their defense play better — it clearly played better — were Ninkovich and Brandon Spikes,” said Cosell, who serves as the producer for ESPN’s “NFL Matchup.”

“I thought he played real well, particularly down the stretch,” Cosell said of Ninkovich, one of only two NFL defenders to finish the regular season with at least six sacks and two interceptions. “I think Ninkovich, he became a really versatile player. He’s not a dynamic, explosive playmaker, play after play. I don’t think he’s a guy who offenses say, ‘We better account for Rob Ninkovich.’ But I thought he played really well down the stretch.”

As for Spikes, Cosell has been an advocate of his for a long time, writing on Twitter that the Florida product is a dynamic presence against the run who is a unique player in this day and age.

“I’m a huge Spikes fan, for what he is. I’m not going to ask him to run with Jimmy Graham, but for what he is, I think he’s really good,” Cosell said. “There aren’t many guys in the league like him who play downhill. He takes on blocks with violence. That’s a dying breed in the NFL. A passing league, a spread league, now, you have linebackers that run around blocks. He took on blocks this year, and he usually won.”

Late in the season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick compared Spikes to former Giants linebacker Pepper Johnson (currently New England’s defensive line coach), a comparison Cosell wholeheartedly agreed with.

“That’s a great comparison,” Cosell said. “Pepper Johnson was the unsung hero of the defense he was on. Bill is all about filling roles and doing your job. He doesn’t get caught up in the media BS. And to him, Pepper Johnson is a critical piece of a defensive puzzle. Brandon Spikes is a critical piece of their puzzle. He may never be an All-Pro, but he’s a good player for them. For what [Belichick] wants and he needs, he does his job and he does it well.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Spikes, Greg Cosell, Jimmy Graham
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