Brandon SpikesBrandon Spikes has yet to make an appearance at Patriots OTAs this offseason, but it’s not because of a contract holdout like most other no-shows around the NFL.

Yes, Spikes is entering a contract year, but his decision to work out on his own is less about his current contract and more about his next one. Spikes enjoyed a breakout season at middle linebacker in 2012, but he was still unable to stay on the field on third downs. That’s something he’s trying to change, according to his trainer Pete Bommarito via the NFL Network.

“It’s basically strength and conditioning work,” Bommarito said. “Just speed work, conditioning, that kind of stuff that we know he responds to. Just trying to basically build and work on overall athleticism. With him, it’s not really anything that’s truly position-specific or sport-specific. The majority of it is just speed, overall joint alignment, making sure he’s as healthy as possible, as lean as possible and as strong as possible.”

Spikes, 25, took over as the Patriots’ primary middle linebacker last season and excelled as a run stopper, but he continued to struggle in pass coverage and often came off the field on third downs. Teammate Jerod Mayo wasn’t a great cover linebacker when he first entered the league either, but he’s developed his skills and is now a staple in the Patriots defense on every down.

The Patriots rewarded Mayo’s efforts with a seven-year, $50 million deal two offseasons ago. It seems Spikes is angling for a similar pay day when he hits free agency next offseason, and becoming a three-down linebacker would certainly help that.

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