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Patriots cleared of mishandling injury reports

FOXBOROUGH — Aqib Talib and Brandon Spikes accused the Patriots of dirty tactics on their way out of town, but the NFL has cleared the team of any wrongdoing, a league spokesman told the Globe on Thursday.

The NFL investigated and didn’t find any merit to the players’ claims that the Patriots falsified injury reports, ostensibly to hurt the players’ value in free agency.

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Talib, who missed three games last year with what was labeled a hip injury, said at his introductory news conference with the Broncos that it was really a thigh injury that the Patriots purposely mislabeled. Talib has an old hip injury from his days in Tampa Bay that he says is completely healed.

“The Patriots have their way of reporting stuff, but I haven’t had a hip problem since Tampa,” Talib said last month. “The injury I had was actually a quad injury. It was reported as a hip injury, but that’s how they do things.”

And Spikes, now with the Bills, said it was a “false report” when the Patriots placed him on injured reserve five days before the playoff game against the Colts.

The decision to place Spikes on IR was likely spurred by Spikes arriving late to practice a few days prior because of a snowstorm, but the Patriots were well within their rights.

Though he played all 16 games in the regular season, Spikes played several games with an injured posterior cruciate ligament in his knee, which did not require surgery this offseason. Teams often place a player on IR to free up a roster spot, even though the player believes he can continue playing.

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