FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Few Patriots players have known Aaron Hernandez as long as Brandon Spikes, his teammate at the University of Florida and a fellow member of the Patriots' 2010 draft class. But, like the other Patriots on Friday, Spikes did not answer questions about the tight end.
"Like I said, I can't really comment. I want to, but I can't, I'm sorry," Spikes said.
He did, however, note that adversity can often bring a team closer together.
"Honestly, I never really pay attention to outside," he said of those who are wondering how the Hernandez situation will affect the team. "All we really have is us here, the guys in this locker room, guys we go to war with. I think the team is always going to face a little adversity, and that's what brings the team closer, I think. We've all got to get through it and push forward, can't really look back. It won't change anything."
There was a point earlier this offseason when Spikes' absence from organized team activities was a primary storyline surrounding the team, but that now feels like a distant memory. Spikes worked with the projected starters on the Patriots' base defense Friday, seemingly picking right back up where he left off at the end of the 2012 season.
While Spikes was pleased to be back at work for the start of a new season, he said he'll relish the opportunity to put the pads back on, which is prohibited for the first two days of training camp, per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
"For me, you know, I look forward to putting the pads on, get to hit a couple guys, welcome to the NFL," he said. "I get a kick out of that; that's what I look forward to. Monday, I think we get the pads on, it's full go."
Spikes, whose hard-hitting presence made a big impact for the Patriots in 2012, spared any of his teammates a welcome-to-the-NFL moment Friday.
"Not today," he joked. "Not today, I took it easy."
But Spikes knows that for each rookie, there will be that welcome-to-the-NFL moment, and he shared some advice with the newcomers for when it arrives.
"Come out, stay positive, there's going to be things you're struggling in," he said. "This is the NFL, there's a lot of great players out here, a lot of great athletes. Just stay in it, if you need any help, just come to me and ask and I'm here to offer it."
The fourth-year linebacker, who enters the final year of his rookie contract, also was asked whether he felt the defense has added pressure on it to perform at a high level given the offensive turnover on the roster this year.
"Me personally, I think defense wins championships, so I always feel like we've got to go out, perform, stop people in order to win," Spikes said. "In any game, you've got to play some D."