Spikes: 'Defense showing signs of being great'

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Spikes: 'Defense showing signs of being great'

TAMPA -- The best thing about Brandon Spikes for the Patriots so far in 2012?

He's available. His first two seasons in the league, the inside linebacker's talent, aggressiveness and enthusiasm were impossible to miss. But he missed. An MCL laid him low for a while last season; a performance-enhancing drug suspension cost him four games as a rookie.

But he's been a part of the budding Patriots' defense for virtually every practice (he did sit out the first preseason game). Patrolling the middle in the Patriots 4-3 alignment, Spikes, Jerod Mayo and rookie Dont'a Hightower are signaling during the fake season that they may become a high-performing linebackers crew.

"We're all SEC linebackers and we know we're really physical and we're athletic too," said Spikes when asked about the relationship between the three players. "Jerod can do it all, Hightower can do it all, I'm just a guy. I do my job. It's fun to have those guys around. As far as Jerod, he's a savvy vet, he does it the right way and I try to follow in his footsteps."

The style Spikes brings is something the Patriots have lacked. He's full-speed, downhill at all times. For a Patriots' defense that's been somewhat tentative and reactionary in recent years, a full-go Spikes brings needed attitude.

He's seemingly always been that way.

When rookie Jeff Demps was asked about going against Spikes in blitz pickup drills, Demps laughed and said, "He's crazy."

Apprised of that description, Spikes said, "I get a little amped up when it comes to blitz pickup. (But Demps) is a tough guy. I remember him putting his head in there, being a smaller guy. Lot of heart, lot of fight. I'm just happy he's on the team."

Spikes is well-liked by his teammates. He's got an irrepressible and unique world view, as anyone who's followed his Twitter feed can attest. And he's got huge University of Florida pride, as evidenced by his gushing about Demps.

"The speeed! Speed kills," said Spikes when asked if he's noticed the newly-signed, recent Olympian. "That's one thing he brings to the game. He can go anytime he gets the ball in our hands. It's good to have that threat on our offense."

But it's the defense that's the concern on this team. Or has been. Spikes articulated what has been somewhat evident in camp.

They're getting there.

"We've been showing signs of being great but we need to come in and put in the work every day," he said. "You need to try and get better, you can't stay the same. ... If we come out and stay humble every week and look at the game plan and execute it, we should be fine."

One last thing. Through most every camp interview, Spikes has kept his helmet on. Thursday, no helmet. Why's he been wearing the headgear?

"I'll tell you about that later, but no comment. No comment."

Curran: Goodell wins, but the truth again is lost

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Curran: Goodell wins, but the truth again is lost

You keep thinking Roger Goodell’s hit absolute rock-bottom and then he sets a new low.

Thursday morning, while stumping for the NFL Draft on "CBS This Morning," Goodell was back at it again, calling the Wells Report an independent investigation.

Responding to a comment from Saints quarterback Drew Brees that Brees would not “trust any league-led investigation when it comes to anything,” Goodell answered, “There was an independent investigation on this, and an independent report that was presented to me. And that’s what we based the judgement off of. And then we had a hearing, we had a process that is articulated in our collective bargaining agreement that has been there for several decades.” 

We long ago established why the Wells Report wasn’t independent, but since Goodell’s talking points included trying to sell that lie anew, let’s revisit the reasons the Wells Report was a propaganda hit piece.

First, Jeff Pash, the NFL’s lead counsel and one of the primary investigators during the proceedings, edited the report. Goodell’s right-hand man, his legal brain and advisor, the man Wells initially said was around merely to facilitate interviews, put his eyes and hands on the slanted 243-page report that has been proven to be anything but independent.

Second, Lorin Reisner, a fellow lawyer at Wells’ firm, popped up on the conference call Wells staged to bluster about his own integrity during the investigation.

Then, Reisner was questioning and cross-examining on behalf of the NFL during Tom Brady’s appeal. Ultimately, the league stated during court proceedings that it wasn’t bound to give a player an independent investigation anyway so all the holes being poked in Wells’ obvious propaganda piece didn’t even matter. 

So, Goodell would be best off not mentioning the words “independent” and “investigation” as it relates to the Brady case. Of course, he’d have been better off not talking about anything except this week’s appeal decision handed down, but he can’t help himself.

On Wednesday, he offered this fabrication, saying that the 2-to-1 decision upholding Goodell’s right to suspend Brady and conduct the arbitration hearing in the manner he did, “Reaffirmed our authority and the underlying facts to the case.”

They didn’t reaffirm the underlying facts to the case. Actually, the judges were clear that they were not doing that. They were simply reviewing whether Goodell had the right to suspend for conduct detrimental in this instance and whether he was fair in the arbitration process. Two robes thought he was. The third thought he dispensed his own brand of industrial justice and moved the goalposts during the proceedings.

Spinning and selling. Laughing and lying. All in a day’s work.
 

King: Best guess is Notre Dame's Smith lands with Patriots in third

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King: Best guess is Notre Dame's Smith lands with Patriots in third

Earlier this week, our intrepid Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran broached the topic of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith potentially being worth a Patriots draft pick.

A top-10 talent before suffering a gruesome knee injury at the end of last season, it seems as though Smith would certainly be worthy of a late-round selection, Curran wrote. The Patriots front office has proven its willingness to take chances on talented players with injuries in the past so why wouldn't they do it again? Especially if Smith lasts until the sixth round where the Patriots have five selections, three of which are compensatory picks and can't be traded. 

But what if the Patriots pounced sooner?

In a draft-day column on MMQB.com, Peter King's "best guess" on where Smith will end up was with New England at pick No. 96 overall in the third round. 

"He’s the first-round pick they didn’t have this year, assuming the Notre Dame linebacker ever comes back from the nerve damage in his knee stemming from his Fiesta Bowl injury," King wrote. "The Pats can justify it because of their multiple selections in this area—60, 61, 91 and 96."

Smith, when healthy, checks every box as the protorypical modern-day linebacker. At 223 pounds, he's a bit undersized relative to the players that the Patriots typically like to draft at that position, but athletically he was elite before his injury.

If the Patriots medical staff gives the coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio the thumbs up in regard to the health of Smith's knee, it would absolutely come as no surprise if the Patriots drafted him.

No two injuries are alike, obviously, but when it comes to getting good value on a player in the draft with physical question marks -- whether it's Rob Gronkowski or Dominique Easley or Ras-I Dowling -- their track record is proven. They'll take a shot.