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Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes placed on injured reserve

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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising move, the New England Patriots have placed linebacker Brandon Spikes on the season-ending injured reserve list with a knee injury. Spikes has been dealing with a knee injury since late November, but did not miss any games, despite the report that he would need surgery after the season.

Spikes now joins the ever-increasing list of players heading to injured reserve, including his fellow defensive leaders, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo.

Perhaps, Spikes injured the knee even more towards the end of the Patriots' season-finale against Buffalo, or something happened over the course of the bye week. In any case, Spikes' season is over, and he may have played his last game with the organization since his contract runs out this offseason.

When in a base defense, expect Dont'a Hightower to see an increased role as the middle linebacker, and both Jamie Collins and Dane Fletcher to see more snaps on the outside.

However, the Patriots will probably be playing a lot of nickel, so it's more likely we see a heavy dose of Collins alongside Fletcher or Hightower. Fortunately the Patriots are facing the Colts, who don't have a strong rushing attack, so the loss of Spikes may not be felt until later in the postseason.