Spikes needs to keep the effort consistent


Spikes needs to keep the effort consistent

There's no debating Brandon Spikes can be a hard-hitting impact player for the Patriots. The fumble he forced under the two-minute warning in New England's 52-28 win over Buffalo swung some badly-needed momentum back to his team, which was down 14-7 at that time.

Tom Brady lauded the linebacker during a Monday morning WEEI interview.

"That play that Spikes made to knock the ball out from C.J. Spiller . . . I love being on the team with Brandon Spikes. What he does for our defense, and creating fumbles, and really the hard-hitting presence that he is in the middle of the field. Brandon brings that physical element, and to knock the ball out of Spiller like that, that was really awesome."

And not unlike a play Spikes made in Week 2 against the Cardinals.

"That's what he did against Arizona, to knock the fumble off running back Ryan Williams, but that was one of the best plays that I've ever seen anyone make," Brady continued. "He has a nose for the ball, he has a nose for knocking the ball out, and that was a huge play in the game yesterday. For Vince Wilfork to be on the top of it and to recover it, that was a huge play in the game."

Spikes also had a fourth quarter forced fumble, which the Patriots converted into a touchdown. At that point New England was up 28-21 and just starting to gorge itself on scoring drives. But despite the comfortable cushion the team ended up with, Spikes' contributions were not lost on his teammates in the post game.

"He had a huge game," Wilfork said in the locker room. "He caused, what, two, three fumbles? One was on the goal line -- it was seven points. He's coming into his own. He's becoming a big player and, you know what, we need that from everybody."

The challenge is for Spikes to deliver that kind of effort week after week.

We can write odes to his electricity -- he's New England's thumper, a guy who admitted during the 2011 playoffs, "I can get a little crazy out there." But some of Spikes' energy feels like unmet potential, crackling yet unleashed under the surface.

During his first two years consistency was an issue partly because injuries and a suspension kept him off the field. This season he's started all four of New England's regular season games and there's no news of lingering pain holding him back.

So why does he sometimes go dark? Where was the Spikes Spark when New England allowed Ray Rice to average 5.1 yards on 20 carries last week?

When you have a guy who seems able to defibrillate the unit at will, consistency is expected instead of asked for.

Spikes' teammates, from the quarterback to defensive captain, believe he's capable. He just needs to keep proving it.

Red Sox re-acquire INF Rutledge in Rule 5 draft

Red Sox re-acquire INF Rutledge in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- On Wednesday afternoon, Dave Dombrowski was asked what else he might be searching for to complete his roster.
Dombrowski, noting that Travis Shaw had been dealt away in the trade that brought the Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg, said the Red Sox could use another utility infielder to compete with left-handed-hitting Marco Hernandez.
On Thursday morning, Dombrowski found a familiar body in the unlikeliest of places.
The Sox selected Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in the Rule 5 draft. Rutledge, who was once obtained in exchange for outfielder Shane Victorino, spent parts of two seasons with the Red Sox, posting a slash line of .276/.338/.358 with a homer and 13 RBI in 67 games.
He missed most of last season with a knee injury and was outrighted by the Sox last month, becoming a free agent. He signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, but was unprotected by the Rockies and made available in Thursday's draft.
"We always liked him,'' said Dombrowski. "He thought his opportunity to play at the big league level was better [in Colorado]. But it was a situation for us, we looked at our club and we thought we might need a right-handed [hitting] utility infielder. We looked over the list and we like what he can do for our ballclub. So he was on obvious choice for us.''
Rutledge will compete against Marco Hernandez to become another bench player to team with Brock Holt on the Red Sox  roster.
Deven Marrero is also a righthand-hitting infielder, but his strength is defense and he's yet to prove he can hit major league pitching.
"I'd rather have someone [competing] who can swing the bat a little bit more,'' said Dombrowski. "I think [Rutledge] lines up to be on our club. We'll see what happens in spring training, but we know him, we like him. There looks like there's a path for him.''
Drafting Rutledge cost the Red Sox just $50,000 and he must  remain on the team's 25-man roster all season or, be offered back to the Rockies and placed on waivers.
The Sox also lost two players in the Rule 5 major league draft. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim chose right-handed pitcher Justin Haley, while the Baltimore Orioles chose outfielder Aneury Tavarez.


Ravens’ Suggs submits half-hearted effort at Brady snub

Ravens’ Suggs submits half-hearted effort at Brady snub

Terrell Suggs keeps doing his best to pump air into his one-sided “feud” with Tom Brady.

Ever since Brady begged for a flag on Suggs after a benign hit back in 2009, Suggs has made it his mission to speak truth to the perceived power of Brady.

“Everyone just seems to worship the guy so much,” he once said. “Not me, though.”

So, Suggs has called basically derided Brady as a crybaby and occasionally called into question the validity of the Patriots championships.

It’s clearly all for show. When Deflategate was at its height in June of 2015, Suggs said of Brady, “The guy is a winner. He’s won with whatever kind of personnel that he’s had. So I don’t think [Deflategate] really tarnished it … Everybody needs something to write about and needs something to talk about. It’s always something. I’m leaving that alone.”

This week, Suggs smirkingly refused to use Brady’s name when discussing the Patriots leading up to Monday night’s game.

Asked about Brady earning his 201st win as an NFL starter, Suggs said, "He's pretty good. Like I said, wins are wins and numbers are numbers. Numbers don't lie. He's pretty good."

Suggs went on, avoiding Brady’s name. It’s something he’s done in the past for whatever reason. But he’s also been complimentary of the Patriots and Brady as well, saying that, when it’s done, there will be three quarterbacks in the conversation for best-ever: Montana, Unitas and Brady. 

The only time Brady’s verbally stepped out against Suggs and the Ravens is in response to their barbs. In 2010, Brady stated that the Ravens, “Talk a lot for beating us once in nine years.”

Brady also chastised Ravens coach John Harbaugh – now there’s a guy who whines! – after the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff Game when the Patriots snookered the Ravens with intricate formations. That’s about it for return fire.