By: Ian Logue
Jerod Mayo is back after going down in week six of 2013 with an injury. (USA TODAY Images)
Just six games into the 2013 season, the Patriots suffered their second loss on the defensive side of the football and it was perhaps one of their more significant blows in terms of a leadership standpoint.
After already losing one leader in Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo suffered a torn pectoral injury against the New Orleans Saints, knocking him out for the season as he ended up on injured reserve shortly after. It caused a lot of shifting at the linebacker position and the Patriots adjusted enough to battle their way to the AFC Championship, although it didn’t quite turn out the way that they hoped.
After an offseason of rehabilitation for Mayo the seventh year linebacker is back, which is good news for a defense that wasn’t quite the same while he was gone. Mayo tends to fly under the radar given the amount of dirty work he tends to do inside, having lead the team in tackles in 2012. He also garners the respect of the players around him, which is something Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talked about on Friday and said that’s something Mayo’s been able to do since he’s been here.
Having Mayo back in 2014 should give the Patriots’ defense quite a boost.
(USA TODAY Images)
The veteran has been a full participant so far and doesn’t seem as though he’s been hampered by the injury. Having him back out there obviously means a lot to his defense, especially given how players look up to him. Belichick pointed out that Mayo’s earned the respect of his peers since he’s been here, noting the fact that he earned the role of captain in just his second season.
“Even when he was captain his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys,” said Belichick. “Now he’s a more veteran player but he’s still pretty attached to the younger guys like Jamie Collins, [Dont’a] Hightower, guys like that, in addition to guys not at his position. He’s got great work ethic, great presence on the football field and great personality that’s, I’d say, in a very good way professional but also has a good rapport with all the players and the coaches.”
When asked about how Mayo compares to past linebackers like Tedy Bruschi or Mike Vrabel, Belichick, who upon his retirement called Tedy Bruschi “the perfect player”, said Mayo is “similar but different to Bruschi.”
“I’d say more Bruschi but different; similar but different. Tedy had a little different personality but a lot of the same characteristics and played a position – look, when you play a position in the middle of the defense, it’s like playing quarterback – you’re in the middle of the offense. You have to be the main communicator, the person that everything runs through. That’s inherent in the position of linebacker, middle linebacker, just like it is in quarterback on offense.
“Some of that comes with the position. It would be hard for a cornerback to do that or a wide receiver. They could do it maybe off the field but it would be hard to do it on the field just because that’s not the way really the communication flows. But when you take players like that and they’re in the positions like Bruschi was or Jerod, then that all comes with it. It helps to push it up.”