FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots inside linebacker Brandon Spikes has been suspended four games without pay for violating the league's banned-substance policy.
Spikes won't appeal the suspension, which will keep him out of the Patriots' last four games. He will be eligible to return in time for the playoffs.
Spikes' agent, Terry Watson, was adamant that the banned substance was not a steroid, performance-enhancer or anything unlawful. He failed a test that detected a "very common" substance, according to Watson.
Spikes released a statement through the Patriots.
"I've been contacted by the NFL and informed that I will be suspended four games for the detection of an illegal substance in a drug test," Spikes said in the statement. "The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug. The integrity of the game is very important to me. I understand the league's ruling and apologize to my teammates, the fans and the Patriots organization for this mistake."
Spikes has earned starting-level reps as one of the Patriots' best run-stuffing linebackers, so his presence will be missed during a time when the Patriots are trying to close in on home-field advantage for the playoffs. Gary Guyton, who has played in all situations in the past, has typically been used in passing situations, but his role will increase in the next four games.
The Patriots' last four games are against the Bears (ranked No. 22 in rushing), Packers (No. 23), Bills (No. 17) and Dolphins (No. 18).
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