FOXBOROUGH — Last week’s decision by the Patriots to place linebacker Brandon Spikes on injured reserve was not a mutual one, according to Spikes’s agent, which contradicts reports that Spikes knew of the team’s intent and was OK with the move.
A statement issued Monday night by Premier Sports & Entertainment, the company that represents Spikes, took issue with “a few of the erroneous points which have been circulating” regarding the designation, which ended Spikes’s season.
The fourth-year pro from Florida also has been dealing with a lingering knee injury, which played a factor in the IR decision. The statement said that Spikes, after getting a second opinion Monday in Los Angeles, won’t need surgery at this time.
The Patriots placed Spikes, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, on IR Jan. 6.
An ESPN report Saturday — hours before the Patriots beat the Colts in a divisional-round playoff game — said that part of the reason was because Spikes showed up late for a practice Jan. 3. That was the day a storm hit the area, dumping as much as 2 feet of snow.
While the statement released Monday night — which was attributed to Gary Uberstine, Spikes’s agent — doesn’t mention whether Spikes made it to practice on time, it stressed that he didn’t want to stop playing by being placed on IR.
“The team’s decision to place Brandon on Injured Reserve was not a mutual decision, nor need it be. Brandon had every intention to keep playing throughout the playoffs, despite the pain he was experiencing throughout the season,” the statement read in part.
“We never had a single conversation with the Patriots in which they threatened to release him if he didn’t accept the Injured Reserve designation. Spikes has been a great teammate, and nobody can question the passion with which he plays the game, or how important he had been to the Patriots success.
“Although he is disappointed that he won’t be able to line up alongside his teammates this weekend against the Broncos, he won’t let these rumors serve as a distraction.”
At different points during the season, the Patriots have had to prepare for mobile quarterbacks who like to run, from E.J. Manuel to Geno Smith to Cam Newton to even Andrew Luck.
That definitely won’t be the case this Sunday in the AFC Championship game at Denver. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, like counterpart Tom Brady, is no threat running the football. Both quarterbacks who will attempt to lead their teams to Super Bowl XLVIII will do so primarily with their right arms.
“He’s definitely a pocket guy who wants to stay in there and make all the throws,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said Monday. “He’s got great pocket awareness. He’s able to avoid pressure with just shuffling around and moving and using his feet.
“All great quarterbacks have that ability to avoid the rush with just basic, short movements in the pocket, so you just want to do your best to constrict the pocket.”
Manning set season NFL passing records for yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55). His rushing numbers? Not so good. Manning was credited with 32 carries in the regular season, for minus-31 yards.
It was the running of other Broncos, not Manning, that gave the Patriots trouble in the team’s regular-season meeting.
New England allowed 280 rushing yards — the most this season — but held Manning to a season-low 150 passing yards in a 34-31 overtime Patriots win Nov. 24.
Ninkovich and fellow defensive end Chandler Jones have had the job of trying to keep mobile quarterbacks from scampering out of the pocket and making plays with their feet.
That won’t be part of the defensive game plan this week, but the Patriots defense has a tough enough task. Denver scored an NFL-record 606 points this season.
Harris out of equation
The Broncos will be facing the Patriots offense without arguably their top cornerback. Chris Harris tore a knee ligament in Sunday’s win over the Chargers, and Denver coach John Fox announced Monday that Harris is done for the season.
“There’s no doubt that he’s probably one of our better performers on defense throughout this season,” Fox said. “We’ve lost some pretty good performers throughout the season. This team has been resilient.”
Having Harris out doesn’t mean the Broncos are suddenly vulnerable against the pass, though. They still have Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer, among others.
“Champ has been in the league for a very long time, playing at a very high level. Quentin Jammer, too, so we’ve got a task on our hands, and we’ll definitely be preparing for them this week,” said Patriots receiver Danny Amendola, who made his playoff debut Saturday night and caught three passes for 77 yards.
No Allen update
None of the team’s three specialists — kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen, or long snapper Danny Aiken — was spotted in the locker room during Monday’s media access time. Allen, injured in Saturday night’s win over the Colts, went for an MRI on Sunday according to multiple media reports, but coach Bill Belichick said no decision on Allen has been made.
“We’ll see where Ryan’s at and just take stock of everything here in the next day or so,” Belichick said during his weekly appearance on WEEI. “Try to do what we feel like is best. I’m not sure what that is.”
Broncos safety Mike Adams, asked to compare former Patriots receiver Wes Welker — spending his first season with the Broncos — to Julian Edelman, said, “Can’t compare the two because Wes is — he’s something special. He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off-balance. Edelman, he doesn’t do that. He’s a one-speed guy. He doesn’t have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot. I guess that is the main difference between them. But I don’t know if they use him the same as they used Wes, because they’re totally different players.” . . . Left guard Logan Mankins and special teams captain Matthew Slater were named to the All-AFC team in voting by the Professional Football Writers of America. No Patriot was named to the organization’s All-NFL team . . . Saturday night’s win over the Colts was the most-watched Patriots game this season, earning a 45.3 local rating.
Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.