Takeo Spikes proud of his cousin Brandon

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Takeo Spikes proud of his cousin Brandon

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO The conversations don't last long, and aren't that frequent.

But there's no mistaking San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes is proud of his cousin, New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes.

"He's a good football player," Takeo Spikes said. "He's a good football player for their system, and what they have."

The numbers certainly bear this out.

As a rookie last season, Brandon racked up 61 tackles in 12 games with eight starts after an illustrious career at Florida in which he was a two-time All-American and was part of two (2007 and 2009) national championship teams. However, a horrible 40-yard dash time - he clocked in at 5.06 seconds - saw his stock plummet into the second round of the draft.

While he was slowed by injuries during the preseason, Brandon is gradually working his way back into resuming his spot as a starting inside linebacker - the same position his cousin Takeo plays - in New England's 3-4 defense. In Sunday's 35-21 win over San Diego, Brandon had two tackles while his cousin Takeo racked up seven.

Takeo, who grew up in Georgia, said he didn't learn that they were cousins until a few years ago.

"I always knew I had family in that area (North Carolina), but I never knew (who)," said Takeo, 34. "I just did a little research and found out."

What he discovered was a young, hard-hitting linebacker whose aspirations - to play in the NFL - were no different than his when he was that age.

Leading up to the 2010 NFL draft, Takeo was hoping his team at the time, San Francisco, would use one of their early draft picks - the 49ers had three in the first two rounds that year - to select his cousin.

Instead, San Francisco used its first-round picks on a pair of offensive linemen, and used its second-round pick, 49th overall, to draft Southern Cal free safety Taylor Mays.

Thirteen picks later, Brandon Spikes was a Patriot.

Takeo sees a tremendous amount of talent, growth and potential in Brandon, an assessment he says he would have come to regardless of them having the same bloodline.

"He has a natural knack for the ball," Takeo said. "A lot of people not blessed with (his) instincts. He plays aggressive. Good athlete. Those intangibles alone his pedigree, where he came from. He won a lot of football games at Florida. Not only was he part of it; he was an integral part of it. He was one of the leaders."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Wide receiver Danny Amendola was officially listed as out on the injury report for the Patriots' Monday night home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Amendola injured his ankle on a punt return against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. It will be the first game he's missed this season. The Patriots signed veteran wide receiver and kick returner Griff Whalen during the week.

Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder) is among the Pats listed as questionable, along with special teams ace Matt Slater (foot), who missed the Rams game, safety Jordan Richards (knee), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring) and cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring).

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.