Curran: Impressions made during Spikes absence

Curran: Impressions made during Spikes absence
June 10, 2013, 11:15 am
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Voluntary’s voluntary. You don’t want to do something, you’re told you don’t have to do something and -- even if you do it -- you won’t get paid anything extra. One can see the logic in taking a pass. Right?
 
An analogy: Everybody in the office is going to Applebee’s after work for Charlotte’s baby shower. The boss makes it clear he’d really like to see everyone there for Charlotte. No pressure. But there will be some informal planning for that big project coming up.
 
You choose not to go. Over potstickers, Diane -- that opportunistic weasel -- insinuates herself into YOUR role. She convinces the boss she does the little things and deserves a more responsibility. Her role will grow. Yours, as a result, shrinks.
 
Blame Diane. Blame the boss. Lament that business decisions are made while eating edible eyeballs that pass for potstickers. But what can you do?
 
Brandon Spikes exercised his right to choose this offseason. The fourth-year linebacker took a pass on working out with teammates in Foxboro, skipping voluntary workouts and organized team activities to reportedly work out in Florida at Bommarito Performance, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
 
With the mandatory portion of the Patriots offseason program upon us -- minicamp through Thursday -- Spikes is in town, as expected.
 
But what got accomplished in his absence? Who made impressions in Foxboro that Spikes couldn’t make in Florida?
 
Spikes is a very good run-stopping linebacker who plays with downhill ferocity that’s unique in the Patriots defense. But he’s a liability in coverage as he enters the final season of his rookie contract. Howe reports that Spikes worked out on his own so he could mold himself into a three-down linebacker.
 
That’s some logic worth questioning.
 
If Spikes wants to be relied upon on third down, showing he’s got his coverage responsibilities locked down in the Patriots scheme is probably more important than executing 50 box jumps on a field in Davie, Florida. No matter how much quicker the heavy-footed Spikes gets, if he doesn’t know where to be, who does that help?
 
Players aren’t supposed to be penalized for taking a pass on offseason workouts. But nothing says teammates that show up won’t be rewarded for impressions made when they do attend.
 
Dane Fletcher looked outstanding in camp before blowing his ACL last August. He doesn’t figure to concede his role on third down to Spikes. And he’d probably like to see if he can expand it.
 
During OTAs, Fletcher’s seen plenty of time with the presumed starting linebacker group. Fletcher probably can’t bring the same run-stopping presence Spikes does. But it should be a shock to nobody -- Spikes especially -- if the Patriots try to find out for sure Fletcher can’t do it by using him more.