Thursday, April 17, 2014
Brandon Spikes became the New England Patriots latest Injured Reserve casualty on Monday, his knee injury too severe for him to continue playing.
Asked Tuesday if there comes a point where the Patriots have too many injuries to overcome, safety Devin McCourty said, "I hope not.''
Spikes became the fourth defensive starter to go down this year with a season-ending injury, joining Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo.
With the Indianapolis Colts coming to town for an AFC Divisional Round playoff game, the Patriots don't have time to feel sorry for themselves.
"Next man up,'' said McCourty. "You just got to play. Each guy out there brings different things and the things that Spikes brought you’re not always going to be able to do that. For us it’s going to be each guy doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s not always trying to replace what another guy can do. It’s about trying to control what you can do.''
Rob Ninkovich, like McCourty a defensive captain, said it really comes down to whoever is in there doing his job.
"It's something that we've dealt with in the past,'' said Ninkovich. "It's not something you want to deal with but we've been able to move past the guys who have been injured. Guys that come in and step into that role have done a great job for us.
"And we've been able to win football games. And that's what it's all about at the end of the day, winning a football game.''
That Spikes' loss came as the playoffs began is unfortunate.
"We're going to deal with it now, it's just part of the game,'' said Ninkovich. "Other guys that are in the roles got to step up. And guys like myself, I got to step up. Me and Chandler (Jones) got to step up. We've got to make more plays and put some of the weight on our backs.''
No question that Spikes' loss will affect the Patriots run defense. What the team will miss most, though, is his leadership on the field. He was the one player who spoke up first when it was needed.
"Whatever your role is, you go out there and perform and do it to the best of your abilities,'' said Ninkovich. "And that's how you win football games.''
McCOURTY WAS asked if he expected to see former Patriot wide receiver Deion Branch Sunday. Branch was signed by the Colts Monday.
"He's on the roster,'' said McCourty. "I don't see why he won't be on the field.''
There had been speculation that the Colts signed Branch primarily to get the inside scoop on the Patriots. Colts Coach Chuck Pagano said that wasn't the case. Branch had worked out for Indy a couple of weeks ago and the Colts are banged up at wide receiver.
"Again, every decision we make is based on two things: what’s best for the team and what helps us win,'' said Pagano. "And we feel like we got a guy that’s a former Super Bowl MVP that’s played a lot of good football at a high level, so he can help us.''
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.