This off-season, we've all heard about how great 2nd round draft pick ILB Brandon Spikes has been doing with the New England Patriots. We all know and love defensive captain and ILB Jerod Mayo. We've heard fellow ILB Gary Guyton has been working alongside Mayo with the first team defense.
So what about last year's 3rd round pick Tyrone McKenzie?
McKenzie was a 2009 3rd round draft pick, who spent last season on the injured reserve after tearing the ACL in his right knee in rookie training camp.
I had a chance to snag Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss, via Twitter, who answered my question.
RH: Hey Mike, you talked about how Spikes "led" some defensive drills, with Dane Fletcher next to him- where's Tyrone McKenzie?
MR: Next to Eric Alexander, if I recall.
RH: Does that mean Fletcher passed McKenzie? Or does McKenzie have a similar skill set to Spikes?
MR: [I] wouldn't read too much into it at this point. [It's] probably based on experience in the system.
RH: [Oh, so] McKenzie and Alexander were with the more experienced defense?
MR: [Correct, right] after Jerod Mayo and Guyton. [Standard operating procedure].
So there you have it. For all we've heard about Spikes, he's still working with the young players. He's learning quickly, but not so fast that the team has put him with the 2nd team defense. McKenzie is running the 2nd team defense with Eric Alexander.
As the summer progresses and as Spikes has more time in the Patriots defensive system, look for him to replace Alexander with the 2nd team defense. In the mean time, let's not forget about Tyrone McKenzie, who is working steadily with the 2nd team.