The hits keep coming.

New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo could miss the rest of the 2013 season with a torn pectoral mucsle. The defensive captain had surgery Tuesday to repair the muscle, according to Yahoo! Sports writer Les Carpenter.

Carpenter, notes no decision has been made, but there’s a good chance the Pro Bowl linebacker is sidelined for the season. If history is any indication, most players who have suffered a similar injury have missed significant time. Severity of the tear will be key. If it’s a partial tear maybe the team waits to see if he can come back later in the year. If it’s a full tear I doubt he can return to action this season.

The loss would be big for several reasons. Mayo’s leadership, ability and versatility are valuable to the Pats defense. Two weeks ago the team lost Vince Wilfork for the year, now it looks like Mayo will join him. It’s disappointing the Patriots will never be close to full strength on defense this year.

The championship teams of the past have all been built on the “next man up” mantra, but it’s much tougher when you have a young team like the Patriots do now. Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Brandon Spikes will all be thrust into bigger roles moving forward. Hightower will most likely become the defensive signal caller and play a lot more snaps from here on out. It will be interesting to see how the team responds.

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