Hightower on Spikes & his own comeback

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots took another hit this week with starting inside linebacker Brandon Spikes placed on season-ending injured reserve (knee), and fellow linebacker Dont'a Hightower summed up what the Patriots lose without the hard-hitting Spikes.

“Intimidation. Fire. He brings that spark to the defense that a lot of people don’t,” he said. “A lot of people don’t see what goes on out on the field, but definitely that spark.

“Whenever we need a big play, everyone usually looks to him for that big play. If somebody needs to say something, then it’s usually Spikes. It’s not a captain. It’s not a 15-year vet. It’s usually him. Everybody else is going to have to step up.”

Top draft pick Jamie Collins could see his snaps increase and Hightower expressed his confidence in him.

“Smart dude, very athletic, and he uses that to his [advantage],” he said. “I feel like we’re going to be fine. … There’s no point in crying about it. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

One thing Hightower and his fellow linebackers can do is make sure they stay within themselves, which he acknowledged he didn’t do earlier in the year after the Patriots lost linebacker Jerod Mayo to a season-ending injury Oct. 13.

“Usually whenever guys try to step up and be a vocal leader or try to do too much outside the box than what they normally do, they kind of put themselves in an awkward position, as well as everybody else. I’ve been there, done that, trying to do too much,” he said.

“It didn’t work for me. I fell back. But everything is finally coming back to play. As long as everybody does their job, nobody has to go outside the box and be outside the comfort zone.”