Jacoby Jones (12) is tackled by New England Patriots middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (55) in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots downgrade Brandon Spikes to questionable

New England Patriots middle linebacker has suddenly become one of the team’s most important players due to season-ending injuries to elite LB Jerod Mayo and top, veteran starting DT duo Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. But the Patriots could have to face today’s marquee Sunday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos without Spikes, as he has been downgraded from “probable” to “questionable” with a knee injury.

Spikes has dealt with minor, nagging injuries throughout this career, but those injuries largely dissipated last season. It’s  why Spikes was finally able to break out and have a big year; he wasn’t always hurt. Even so, he did miss one game at the tail end of the regular season last year and continued to work on his conditioning in the offseason in an effort to avoid injuries (Spikes opted to do this instead of participate in optional OTAs). He’s done a great job of avoiding injuries in a contract year, but this latest knee ailment could be a big one-game loss for the Patriots.

The Patriots announcement of his downgrade on game day is definitely not a good thing, because even a game day downgrade to “just” questionable is a cause for significant concern. If the Patriots don’t have Brandon Spikes out there tonight, then they will lose one of the game’s best run-stopping linebackers and their best starting LB left. In fact, it can be argued quite convincingly that Spikes is the best player on the Patriots front seven with Mayo and Wilfork done for the year.

Hopefully Spikes can play, because losing him would be a critical loss (the Patriots already have four players in the secondary listed questionable ahead of today’s tilt). The conditions at Foxboro are going to be icy and windy, which means that the Broncos, who enjoy running the ball with Knowshon Moreno and now rookie Montee Ball, could be more inclined to run the ball, especially if the beastly Patriots MLB is out. Keep a close eye on his status, because he looks like a total toss-up as a game-time decision. At this point, the only bright side is the fact that Spikes hasn’t been ruled out.

Tags: Brandon Spikes Injury Report New England Patriots

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