FOXBORO -- Brandon Spikes is unique.
His personality has made him a fun study over the last three years. Friday, Spikes wandered through the Patriots locker room wearing a grey sweatshirt that proclaimed "HARVARD LAW." The "JUST KIDDING" punchline sat, though in a smaller font, just as proudly underneath.
But it's the linebacker's football life that makes 2013 so compelling. This year is the last on Spikes' rookie deal and he'll be looking for a fatter contract. Whether or not the Patriots want to give it to him isn't the only question.
The first might be, 'Does he deserve it?'
"My goal has been the same every year: Just be productive," Spikes told reporters. "This year I'm an older player, we've got a lot of younger guys; [I'll] just try to direct them and make sure they're in the right position to be able to help the defense and execute."
Players don't often outline their specific areas of improvement. So what comes off on film?
Excellent marks for run-stuffing. Spikes is a Thumper. He has great vision, blitzes with a vengeance, and knows how to shoot the gaps.
Pass coverage is a different story. Last season, quarterbacks had an 81.1 completion percentage (second-highest among Patriots at the position) against Spikes. He acknowledged the need to get faster by skipping offseason OTA's to do speed work and conditioning in Florida.
Just don't ask him about it. He doesn't like the implication.
"All these pass coverage questions," he said with a frown. "I don't get where that's coming from.
"I'm kind of dumbfounded everybody keeps saying that. I don't understand what you guys are saying, but whenever my number is called I go in and try to get it done. I'm just going to do what I've been doing."
It's a boom or bust season for Brandon Spikes. Can he show he's better than a two-down linebacker, and get that hefty payday? New England won't be the only team watching.