FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes took a rare opportunity to speak with the media after Friday's practice, and answered questions about his fluctuating snap count, his role on the team, and what the defense will need to do to slow the undefeated New Orleans Saints Sunday.
Spikes is coming off one of the best games of his NFL career. In last week's loss to the Bengals, he intercepted a pass and finished with 22 tackles (according to team figures), which marks a career high. Piling up tackles hasn't been a problem for Spikes, who is listed in the team's statistics with 41, second only to Jerod Mayo.
But his playing time has fluctuated wildly. Against the Bengals, Spikes was on the field for 59 of the Bengals' 71 offensive plays. Based on number of plays and percentage, it was the most playing time of the season for him. The week before, in a win at Atlanta, Spikes logged only 6 of 76 defensive snaps.
Is that frustrating?
"I always want to be on the field to help the team out, be out there running around with the guys," he said. "We put so much in throughout the week, you get one opportunity to come out on Sunday and get it done.
"Sometimes it is a little frustrating, but like I said, whenever my number is called, I've just got to go in and play at a high level and get the job done, and thatís what I try to do every Sunday."
In the first three games this season, Spikes played 16 of 64 snaps against the Bills, 31 of 74 against the Jets, and 37 of 71 against the Buccaneers. For the season, he's been on the field for 42 percent of the defensive snaps; last year, Spikes played in 72 percent, prompting a question as to whether he feels his role is changing.
"I guess, maybe. I really donít know." he said. "I donít look at it like that, I just come out and have a good time on Sundays. I donít really pay attention to stuff I canít control.
"I just feel fortunate to be able to play this game. I just want to make the best of it. Itís a small margin of time you get to play, so why not go and have fun? Thatís all I base it on, go have fun and be happy playing the game I love."
With Vince Wilfork out for the rest of the season, Spikes will be looked at to help stop the opponents' run game. The Saints are capable of running but also have one of the league's top passing attacks.
"Theyíve got weapons all over the field," said Spikes. "Great quarterback, receivers, tight ends, running backs. Weíve just got to do a great job of executing our defense."