FOXBOROUGH — Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes is not apologizing for his hit on Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick last Sunday — which could result in another fine — and didn’t seem fazed by the postgame reaction from the Bills quarterback, who called him a “punk.”
Asked if the comments hurt, Spikes said, “Not at all. Everybody has their opinion, and they can say what they want, but I’m just doing my job.”
Spikes was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer on the fourth-quarter play; he hit Fitzpatrick high, knocking off the quarterback’s headgear. After the game, Fitzpatrick said, “I think he’s a punk at times. Not one of my favorite players. Not high on my list.”
Bills center Eric Wood also chimed in, calling Spikes a “head-hunter.”
In the teams’ first matchup in September, Spikes was penalized for a blind-side hit on tight end Scott Chandler during an interception return. The NFL fined Spikes $21,000 for the play.
Spikes acknowledged that his playing style might not appeal to everyone. Especially opponents.
“I’m a passionate player,” Spikes said. “I love what I do. I get a kick out of it. I go to bed thinking about ball, I wake up thinking about ball. You can see it when I’m playing.”
Spikes might also see how the league feels about the hit on Fitzpatrick. He said Thursday that he hadn’t heard from the NFL, which notifies players of a fine by letter.
“Not yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get something here in the next couple days,” Spikes said. “It takes a little bit of my aggression away, but hey, it is what it is. It’s definitely discouraging, but that’s how I play. I’m physical.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked about his counterpart in this Sunday’s game against Indianapolis, Andrew Luck, who was the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
In his first season with the Patriots, Brady, a sixth-round draft pick, appeared in just one game and attempted three passes. Luck has started all nine games for the 6-3 Colts, and has thrown for 2,631 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brady has noticed.
“As a rookie, I was like fourth string and eating nachos before the game in the stands,” he said. “There wasn’t much of me thinking of playing.
“I always admire those rookies who can do it because it is such a challenge, whether you’re a defensive end like Chandler Jones, or [linebacker] Dont’a Hightower, or Andrew Luck, or any of these rookies who really play a big role for a certain team. It’s a real credit to them and their ability to transition and focus.”
At the start of the Bills game, center Ryan Wendell had Logan Mankins to his left and Dan Connolly to his right. In the fourth quarter of a tight game, Wendell was flanked by Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald, pressed into service because of injuries to Mankins (ankle) and Connolly (back).
Neither Mankins nor Connolly has practiced this week, leaving their availability for Sunday’s game uncertain. Wendell said he was ready to calm any Patriots fans concerned about the upheaval on the offensive line.
“The fans should know that we practice like this all the time and these guys know what they’re doing,” Wendell said. “We run guys in and out, and all those guys have been in there, and it makes it easy when guys like Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald come in and play as well as they did. A lot of people across the board work hard to make this work.”
Whoever is out there on the offensive line, they’ll need to deal with a Colts front four led by Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The edge rushers have combined for 195 career sacks and 11 Pro Bowl selections.
“The number of qualities that both those guys have, they have more than one thing,” Wendell said. “Do they have speed? Yes. Do they have power? Yes. Do they have good moves? Yes. Do they play hard and are they tenacious and won’t stop? Yes, both of them are that way.
“You can’t have the production they’ve had over the last 10 years without having that, so there’s a number of things that make them as great as they are.”
Welker takes a pass
In addition to Mankins and Connolly, receiver Wes Welker didn’t practice Thursday, making it two straight days those three were not on the field. Welker suffered an ankle injury late in Sunday’s game. The only newcomer to the report was receiver Deion Branch, who was listed with a hamstring injury under limited participation . . . Linebacker Jerod Mayo, asked what the Patriots defense can do better after allowing 31 points, 35 first downs, and 481 yards to Buffalo: “Coming off the Bills game, everything. We have to tackle better, just the fundamentals, and go out and execute the game plan.”