Brandon Spikes kept the Patriots potshots to a minimum during his introductory press conference in Buffalo.
But the reverence with which Spikes spoke of former Patriots coach and longtime Bill Belichick lieutenant Pepper Johnson was telling on two fronts.
First, it explains in part why Spikes is in Western New York. Second, it points to the growing gap between Belichick and Johnson. Johnson was the man put in charge of managing the iconoclastic Spikes, a fun guy and a good player who had little use for New England rigidity.
Nearly every day, at the start of practice, Spikes, Johnson and captain Vince Wilfork would toil at the end of the stretching/running line, a smidgen apart from the group, going at their own pace.
Three large peas in a pod. It’s no surprise Spikes followed Johnson. It will be no surprise if Wilfork gets the release he’s demanded and joins them. Even more reason to doubt the Patriots are going to be in a hurry to grant Wilfork’s wish.
Spikes, who has a little history with Bills tight end Scott Chambers explained his joining the Bills by saying he could reunite with Johnson and that, “I feel like it’s going to be fun and like I said, I’m down for a challenge. I want to help change the culture there.”
Despite running a five-flat 40 at the Combine and attempting an eye-gouge on a Georgia opponent at Florida, the Patriots took Spikes in the second round in 2010.
He didn’t want to talk about the mistreatment he suffered at the hands of the Patriots on Monday.
“We definitely know all about it and it’s in the past,” he said. “I just want to close that chapter.”
Borrowing a Belichick verbal stiff-arm device, Spikes added, “Like I said, I’m on to Buffalo. I’m just excited about the future.”
There’s no denying Spikes is a devastating run-stopper. Working behind one of the best defensive lines in football and possibly being unleashed on more blitzes should be a terrific fit for Spikes.
He does remain butthurt, as the kids say, over being lifted during third downs in the past few seasons.
“I played on it if they gave me the opportunity and I delivered when I was out there,” he explained. “Obviously we went to the Super Bowl and I had one of the best games on third downs even though we lost. That whole entire season when I was given the opportunity and play on third down, I delivered. You asked the question about the packages, I was in all of them on third down. I don’t know what happened, but I guess I just couldn’t cover out there for a few years. I don’t know, that’s what they said. Like I said, that’s in the past and now I’m just here to change all that. Prove people wrong if that is what they’d like to say. I’m just ready to go play the game I love. Everybody don’t have an opportunity to have their dream and play. I’m just happy to have this opportunity and be in this situation to play the game I love.”
Spikes says he’s not losing any contact with his former teammates.
“I definitely won’t leave those guys behind,” he said. “They will always be friends of mine. I spoke to them a few times already and I actually was just hanging out with Jamie Collins yesterday. They’ll definitely be friends of mine forever. I’ll be in contact and I’ll never forget them. They have a great linebacker core with a lot of young guys. They’ll definitely be fine over there and I’ll be watching them play and being in contact with them.”