|Patriots rookie Brandon Spikes (above) has just three games under his belt, but he is quickly benefiting from the veteran guidance of teammates such as Vince Wilfork and Gerard Warren. (Robert E. Klein/ for The Globe)|
A spike in his learning curve
Rookie linebacker picking things up
FOXBOROUGH — Brandon Spikes is about to play just the fourth game of his NFL career, and the Patriots linebacker acknowledges there have been times when his inexperience has shown.
But Spikes is learning lessons in all of his experiences, on the field and off. Yesterday, he addressed the media for the first time since the season began. He has not granted an interview since a sex tape in which he appeared emerged on the Internet at the end of August. Spikes’s agent, Terry Watson, spoke on behalf of his client at the time, but Spikes had not addressed the situation until yesterday.
“I definitely was embarrassed,’’ Spikes said. “But we already addressed that issue, so I’m just trying to move on.’’
On the field, Spikes seems to be finding his way. The second-round pick out of Florida has started the last two games at inside linebacker.
One area in which Spikes acknowledges difficulty is covering tight ends. In the Week 2 loss to the Jets, New York tight end Dustin Keller had a game-high seven catches for 115 yards and one touchdown.
“Sometimes it just comes with a pass-run conflict,’’ Spikes said. “[You have to] read the run and get back. I have help over the top, but it’s my job to try and stay with the tight end, so I try to do that. I know in the Jets game I kind of lost him a few times, but it’s a learning curve. I’ve got to take steps.’’
As he heads into Monday night’s game against the Dolphins in Miami, Spikes has been credited with 17 tackles, fourth on the team behind Patrick Chung (29), Jerod Mayo (29), and James Sanders (18).
There are plenty of adjustments, but Spikes said preparing for different teams week after week may be the toughest. With the different offenses, Spikes said comprehending it all can be a challenge, but “you’ve got to be upbeat with that and try to keep up.’’
From the moment Spikes was drafted, players such as nose tackle Vince Wilfork were eager to see what he could add to the defense.
“He’s every bit the person I thought he was,’’ said Wilfork in August. “Looking at the guy playing in college, he’s playing with that same mentality on this defense.
“He’s a hard-nosed, tough player who loves football. That’s exactly what he’s brought. That’s exactly what we need on this football team, somebody that loves this game and is not afraid to hit. Tough, smart.’’
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said the presence of Vince Wilfork and Gerard Warren up front benefits a player like Spikes.
“Vince is going to factor in the game, there’s no question about it,’’ said Sparano, “because he’s a big, strong person and the guy really has a good motor for a big man. But the two players that benefit the most from having those big strong guys out there are Spikes and Mayo. You see those guys around and they’re making almost every tackle out there on the field.’’
Monday night’s game is another chance for Spikes to continue his development.
“It’s been kind of like a big learning process, but I think it’s coming along pretty smooth so far,’’ he said. “Every day is a step I need to take to try to get better.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.