New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes (55) and defensive tackle Joe Vellano (72) wrap up Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (28) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots won 34-20, and will have a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
The Patriots placed starting linebacker Brandon Spikes on injured reserve Monday, a surprising development given that the team is coming off its first-round playoff bye and the news comes less than a week after New England will host Indianapolis in the AFC Divisional round.
Spikes, who played collegiate football at Florida, was the team's third-leading tackler and especially effective against the run. He had battled a knee injury for much of the season but played in all 16 regular-season games, starting 11. He now joins Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly as other Patriots defenders who have landed on IR.
The expectation is that rookie Jamie Collins and four-year veteran Dane Fletcher will fill Spikes' role on the defense.
In other Patriots news, former second-round pick WR Deion Branch has signed with the Colts, where he will be reunited with former teammate Adam Vinatieri. Branch last played in the NFL in 2012, with the Patriots, where he appeared in 10 games, and caught 16 passes for 145 yards.
Branch began his career in Foxoboro back in 2002. Before the 2006 season, he was traded to the Seahawks, where he played until midway through the 2010 season, when he rejoined the Patriots. This weaken he returns to Gillette Stadium ... wearing a Colts uniform.