New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes has been placed on injury reserve and will subsequently miss the rest of the season, according to various reports.
The 26-year-old suffered a knee injury just five days before this weekend's playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts - and becomes the Patriots' fourth key defender to be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.
Spikes had reportedly been carrying the knee injury for most of the season but played through the pain barrier.
However, after making just one tackle in the team's last regular-season fixture - a 34-20 victory against the Buffalo Bills - it became clear that Spikes needed to be placed on IR.
Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo are the three who join Spikes on the injury list.
Patriots won their last two matches of 2013, against Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills, but have their work cut out in the playoffs without several key players.