New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes has been suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance policy.
According to league rules, the suspension will cost Spikes 4 games . The New England defender has elected not to appeal the ruling, and will begin serving the suspension this week against the Chicago Bears. With four regular season games left, Spikes will miss the remainder of the regular season but will be available to participate in the playoffs should the Patriots secure a spot in the postseason – something that appears certain barring a complete collapse.
Spikes issued a statement through the team:
"I've been contacted by the NFL and informed that I will be suspended four games for the detection of an illegal substance in a drug test. The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug.
"The integrity of the game is very important to me. I understand the league's ruling and apologize to my teammates, the fans and the Patriots organization for this mistake."
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound inside linebacker has become a key part of the New England defense starting eight of the 12 games this season. Selected in the second round (62nd overall) of the NFL Draft, the Florida product has 61 tackles and three passes defended according to NFL's game day stats. Spikes recorded his first career interception last week against the New York Jets when Mark Sanchez threw a pass in the red zone during the second half of Monday night's 45-3 blowout in Foxborough.
Replacing Spikes will be Gary Guyton who held the inside linebacker position next to Jerod Mayo in 2009 and prior to Spikes' promotion to the starting unit in 2010. In four starts this season and 12 games, Guyton trails Spikes in total tackles 61 to 43, but leads him in Sacks 2 to none. Both players have an interception, Guyton returned his 59 yards for a score in Week one against the Bengals
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