FOXBORO — The way Brandon Spikes  sees it, the bye week is just another week for him to refine the skills that have made him one of the most feared linebackers in the game today.
Entering the bye, Spikes has 50 tackles in eight games, with three forced fumbles and one sack. With 19 tackles in his last two games, he is playing inside linebacker with a consistency not seen in his previous two seasons. This is what the Patriots saw in him when they drafted him in the second round out of Florida in 2010.
“I just think we have a ways to go,” Spikes said Thursday. “It’s just like a roller coaster, and I’m just like every professional, I want to play well every game. If we can just stay on point, and just keep trying to attack and get better each week, I think we have a chance to get good. We’re young but still, we have some things to get done.”
Spikes has learned a great deal playing next to Jerod Mayo  and rookie Dont’a Hightower. He is clearly on his way to becoming an “every down” linebacker but before he gets there he knows he has to still work on his pass coverage reads. But listen to him, and you get the impression he’s doing everything in his power to speed up that process, even during the bye.
“Me personally, I’m still going to be working,” Spikes said. “I’m not just saying that to you guys. Honestly, I just want to be a professional. I want to be the best at my position. I can’t let a day get by. I’m definitely going to enjoy my family but at the same time, I’m still trying to get the edge.”
Sporting a red hat with yellow lettering that read “I (heart) haters,” Spikes said Thursday that he models his game after Bears hall of famer Dick Butkus, who told him to keep hitting people hard.
Asked if the bye might help him rejuvenate since he plays the game with such fury, Spikes said he’s felt as good as he’s felt in his career, a career that was interrupted by knee issues in the first two seasons, including a strained MCL last year.
“Honestly, this is the best I’ve ever felt in my life,” Spikes said with a huge smile. “I feel like I’m 18. I can go places, I feel great. Seriously, I’m a physical guy, I’m a big-boned guy, I don’t really feel any of it. It’s the bye, I may enjoy it but like I said, I’m still trying to get the edge.”