|Brandon Spikes: ‘I want to be the best at my position’||11.01.12 at 3:59 pm ET|
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.”
|Pepper Johnson sees lots of his game in Brandon Spikes||02.01.12 at 11:43 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson laughed.
Told that coach Bill Belichick compared him to second-year linebacker Brandon Spikes earlier this season, he waited a beat and responded with a smile.
“That’s a shame,” he said. “That’s a shame Brandon went down that far.”
Last month, Belichick made the connection between the two, saying Spikes’ length and playing style reminded him of Johnson, the former New York linebacker who has become the New England defensive line coach. Spikes is 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, while as a player, Johnson was 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds.
“You don’t see a lot of inside linebackers with that kind of height, that 6-foot-4ish height,” Belichick said. “Most guys are a little more compact than that. He’s a pretty powerful guy for being that tall like Pepper was, but a lot of those explosive hitters are 6 feet, 6-foot-1, that type of guy.
“I’m just saying there aren’t a lot of them, and I think that’s a problem for the quarterback in terms of the passing game because of their length, their height, their range. They get their hands on a lot of balls, but again, kind of like Pepper, Brandon has power. He’ll go up and strikes with a good thump, whether it’s tackling or taking on blockers, that kind of thing.”
“You know what? My guys and some of my friends noticed that when he was playing at the University of Florida. They reminded him of me. I see it,” Johnson said.
While traditional thinking dictates that on third down and other passing situations, you need to remove one of your linebackers in favor of an extra defensive back (or a speedy linebacker), Johnson believes Spikes is doing a great job discrediting the idea that a big thumper can’t be on the field in those situations.
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