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Savvy Spikes Embraced as a True Leader
A lot has been said about the numerous veterans that have been added to the Chargers this offseason, and how the increase in talent and depth will go a long way towards their success. Still, among all these big time names in this year’s locker room that have already made an indelible mark in the league, Takeo Spikes stands out amongst them all.
Entering his 15th year in the NFL, the 6-foot-2, 242-pound inside linebacker has had a remarkable career. He’s amassed totals of 1,350 tackles, 28 sacks, 19 interceptions, 18 fumbles recovered and 14 fumbles forced, earning the respect of the league for his performance on the field. In addition to his impressive resume, Spikes is also a natural born leader , which makes him a highly revered veteran in the locker room.
“Takeo came in last year and he made an immediate impression on our guys,” said head coach Norv Turner. “He’s played a lot and there’s not much he hasn’t seen. When you come into a new place with a new team, it’s a tough thing to fit in a lot of times. And Takeo, he won over the guys right away, so that says a lot about him as a person and as a leader. He’s an engaging guy who does have their respect because of the way he practices, the way he prepares in meetings and the way he approaches the game. I think he’s really been a good role model for not only our young players, but everyone. “
Spikes is a very pensive and articulate speaker who carefully formulates his thoughts before speaking. As a result, his advice resonates with his fellow Chargers.
“Takeo’s done a lot and seen a lot for 15 years so he deserves all our respect,” said fellow linebacker Antwan Barnes. “The things he’s seen and done, they’re so many, that you have to go up to him and ask his advice because it seems like he knows everything. He knows the systems and he knows what guys are going to do, so he’s a great person to get advice from.”
First-round pick Melvin Ingram, who spoke glowingly about watching Spikes on TV growing up, also spends as much time as he can around the veteran, soaking up as much information as possible.
“It’s a special experience to have a veteran of his caliber here to teach me things,” he said. “It’s a blessing. He’s always talking to me. He’s big into communication, which is a big help out on the field. It makes things easier. I remember watching him as a kid, and he’s a player you can’t help but look up to.”
Barnes and Ingram are far from the only Chargers who approach Spikes for guidance. On the field and in the locker room, it seems like he is always speaking with a member of the defense, eager to pass along his vast amount of knowledge for the game he holds dear to his heart.
“(One of my teammates) asked me a question,” said Spikes, “And I sat back and thought about it, and I was like ‘Wow’. The question he asked me was how I managed to stay going hard and competitive after 15 years. And I told him it’s the love for the game. Somebody asked me if I get bored, and it’s like how can I get bored at something you can’t perfect? And I’m shooting for that every day.”
To that end, Spikes, the elder statesmen on the team at 35 years old, was the last man off the field following Thursday’s practice, getting in extra work by instructing some of the younger players.
“The main thing for me is to not let a day go by where I say “I wish I would have” or “What if” and that’s why I spend extra time out here at practice and extra time in the film room. That’s also why I spend extra time out here before practice and prepare, because I never want to look back and say “I wish” or “What if”. That’s my goal.”
With a 15 year career that’s still going strong, it’s doubtful Spikes will leave the game with any regrets.
*Kyle Boller practiced with the team after signing his contract earlier in the afternoon.
*Vincent Brown made a sliding, over the head catch for a touchdown that wowed the crowd.
*Philip Rivers connected with Richard Goodman for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
*Jarret Johnson had a nifty deflection of a pass intended for a seemingly open Antonio Gates.
*Quentin Jammer also had an impressive pass deflection, breaking up a surefire touchdown at the goal line.
*Dante Rosario made an acrobatic catch in the back of the end-zone to keep his feet inbounds for the score.
*Rookie Brandon Taylor had some time with the first unit after Atari Bigby headed off the field.
*Jared Gaither returned to practice after leaving early yesterday with cramps.
*Head Coach Norv Turner expressed excitement over this afternoon's first practice in pads. This is the first session that will be open to the public. Click here for the complete schedule for open practices.
*Don’t forget to use hashtag #SDTC12 when talking about Chargers Training Camp on Twitter.