Although many point to the Patriots' inconsistency at safety this season, linebacker has missed some continuity. Eight different players have started at linebacker this season. The unit did get a boost from Brandon Spikes' return from a knee injury in Week 17.
Spikes' physical play and sure tackling will be helpful against the Broncos, who rushed for 252 yards against the Patriots in Week 15. Before the season, we heard that Spikes' second season was very crucial, especially considering how his 2010 season ended — a four-game suspension for violating the league's banned-substances policy, followed by being a nonfactor in the playoff loss to the Jets. But a knee injury kept him out of eight games this season. He did record 47 tackles and made a big impact in the win over the Cowboys.
"It's good to have him back out there, good that he played," head coach Bill Belichick said. "But he hasn't played a whole lot the last two months. But he's playing more now than he did, so that's good."
In addition to his run-stopping abilities being key for the Patriots to advance, Spikes can show the coaches a lot about his development this postseason.
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