Monday, January 6, 2014
Things Just Got Real: Patriots Put Spikes on IR & Colts Sign Branch
After their bye week (for the fourth season in a row), the Patriots have started preparation for their game on Saturday night (8:15, CBS) vs. the Colts at Gillette Stadium. New England opened up as a 7.5-point favorite against Indianapolis and that shouldn't changed based on today's roster moves but they are certainly something to chew on as they try to reach their third straight AFC Championship Game. The Pats put linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) on IR while the Colts signed former Patriots star and Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch.
As primarily a run stopper, Spikes occupies a dinosaur position in the NFL that is quickly going extinct. Still, he played all 16 games this season (for the first time in his career) and totaled 48 tackles, 38 assists, one fumble recovery, one interception and eight tackles for loss. On a defense already missing Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, Spikes brought some semblance of toughness and attitude, for that he'll be missed. Odds are he wouldn't have played a ton since the Colts mostly pass and use running back Donald Brown who can hardly be described as a punishing runner. The part that really stinks for him is that he's a free agent this offseason so this isn't the best way to cash in.
By signing Branch, the Colts resorted to some Jets type of mind games. There is little the Jets enjoy more than signing some former Patriots scrub the week before they are playing Bill Belichick and New England. Indy's fifth wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will miss Saturday's game with a hamstring injury and apparently Branch lives in Indiana so the Colts had worked him out before. Sure sure. Whatever the case, don't count on a guy who hasn't played in an NFL game since the AFC Championship last season (with New England) to have any kind of impact.
In other moves, the Colts elevated receiver Josh Lenz from the practice squad while placing defensive end Fili Moala and cornerback Greg Toler on injured reserve. Thus far, the Pats haven't made a corresponding move with Spikes but you can bet that rookie Jamie Collins and Dane Fletcher will see way more playing time. I'm guessing they'll just make rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais active although I think he's been a healthy scratch basically all season.
UPDATE 1/7: Patriots promoted linebacker Ja'Gared Davis from the practice squad and signed wide receiver Reggie Dunn to the practice squad.