FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes spoke to the media Thursday for the first time in a while, and he mostly discussed the knee injury that kept him out of seven consecutive games toward the end of the regular season.
"I never really got hurt like that, so it was kind of a burden," said Spikes, who returned for the regular-season finale. "With my teammates pushing me every day, it made it easier. I just had to come out and do what I do, and when my number was called, I just wanted to go out and perform."
Spikes had 51 total tackles (36 solo), one quarterback hit and one pass defense in eight regular-season games. He started to come on before the injury, which he suffered when he and cornerback Kyle Arrington collided to break up a pass in the end zone against the Giants.
The injury also occurred just as Spikes started to play his best football of the season. He has always been a natural in terms of tackling and run stopping, but he was emerging as a presence in coverage over the middle of the field, which has been a struggle for New England's defense through much of the season.
"Of course it was frustrating, but I just think everything happens for a reason," Spikes said. "It happened, and I just had to work through it."
Spikes had to deal with a similar absence during his 2010 rookie campaign, as he was suspended for the final four games of the regular season, which caused him to struggle to get back to his pace in the postseason. He said that experience helped him this time around.
"I think so," Spikes said. "That was my first time as a rookie. With the suspension, it's in the past, it's all over. I went through it, so now I know if I'm out of the game, I know how to take care of myself being a professional. I was a rookie, young and dumb."
Spikes has also drawn some attention with his Twitter account, which has yielded both positive and negative reactions from the fan base.
"The fans are just encouraging me," Spikes said. "They want me to get back on the field. But me personally, I just have my teammates. My teammates, they push me. They're behind me. I'm all good. As long as my team is behind me, I'm all set."
Spikes, who has been wearing a knee brace, has a chance to really make a defensive impact for a New England defense that could use his help. He could add a playmaking dynamic toward the line of scrimmage, and if he stays on pace with his coverage, the middle of the field would be much more solidified.
"I feel good," Spikes said. "There are still some things I've got to just keep on working on, all the smaller things, the fundamental things. I should be fine."