NOTE: This article was first seen at PatriotsPlus.net.
With all of the smack talk being thrown around this week between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets, inside linebacker Brandon Spikes' return has been overshadowed.
Spikes is returning from a four-game suspension handed down by the NFL because he violated the substance abuse policy.
The rookie linebacker has been starting side-by-side with Pro Bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo. Spikes has recorded 61 tackles on the year, with one lone interception off Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
As New England has been preparing for the Jets all this week, Spikes has been practicing on the scout team. Spikes has been sporting a yellow jersey and the No. 57 while playing the position that Jets linebacker Bart Scott plays.
Perhaps Spikes is the best player to give the offense a good look, or maybe he has fallen pretty far down on the Patriots depth chart.
My guess is that he's playing the role as Scott on the scout team. Spikes is the team's best run stopper.
Expect Spikes and Mayo to start at the inside linebacker positions with Rob Ninkovich at one of the outside linebacker positions. But for the other outside linebacker, it could be Tully Banta-Cain or Jermaine Cunningham.
The Patriots have a few practices left until the team matches up against the Jets this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
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