If there's a tackier who can lift the Bengals out of their defensive doldrums, it's second-year inside linebacker Takeo Spikes. The 13th pick in last year's draft out of Auburn, Spikes, whom coach Bruce Coslet refers to as a "guided missile," became the second rookie this decade to lead Cincinnati in tackles. A ferocious hitter who was national defensive player of the year at Auburn and who plays as if possessed by Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, the 6'2", 230-pound Spikes finished his rookie season with 114 tackles, 31 more than any other Cincinnati defender. It's fitting that Spikes's first name means "great warrior" in Japanese. "There are some fine inside linebackers in this league," says Coslet, "and in my mind he's right up there with them."