The Patriots will be without Brandon Spikes for the next four games. The Herald has learned the rookie from Florida has been suspended, which means he will not play Sunday.
The inside linebacker who has 61 tackles will not appeal, I'm told, so he can begin serving his suspension immediately. Spikes hopes to return by the playoffs.
Spikes will sit in violation of the NFL's banned substances policy, though it's not clear what he ingested. I am told it is not a steroid. Nothing has been made official, and the league has not announced anything.
Losing Spikes is certainly a big blow for the Patriots, who will be without the starting inside linebacker until the playoffs. With Spikes out, the Patriots will have a void at their strong inside linebacker spot in the 3-4. Last year, the Patriots played Gary Guyton at the weak inside linebacker spot, and started Jerod Mayo on the strong side, which didn't turn out all that well for the team. We'll see how the Patriots mix things up at this spot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see rookie Dane Fletcher at the spot at times. I could also see the Patriots bringing back a guy like Tyrone McKenzie, who is currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's practice squad.
In terms of scheme, I think the Patriots will turn to a lot more sub-packages and 4-3 sets. They've done the former a lot the last few weeks, so hopefully it will not be a big adjustment. Nonetheless, losing Spikes for the rest of the regular season is a big blow for the Patriots. Hopefully the team can just hang on to the 1st seed and have him back come playoff time.