FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots lost an All-Pro linebacker when Jerod Mayo went down with a torn pectoral muscle last season, and according to head coach Bill Belichick, they also lost their glue.
Belichick heaped enormous praise on Mayo, who has been a full participant in practice, before Friday’s Patriots’ training camp practice. Mayo is a great all-around linebacker who can contribute in coverage and against the run, but it seems that how he handles the team off the field is equally as important.
“He’s, I’d say, really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player,” Belichick said. “Not that there aren’t other players that are instrumental in that, but I think he touches pretty much everybody, not just the defensive players but all the guys. Not just the older guys but the younger guys. Even when he was captain his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys. 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. I think he’s as well respected as any player in the locker room. I’d say one of the best overall team leaders, players, kind of a glue, chemistry guy I’d say that I’ve been around.”
Mayo, a Patriots captain since 2009, started at weakside linebacker for the Patriots during the last three seasons as the team transitioned to a 4-3 front. With Brandon Spikes gone after signing as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills, Mayo could kick inside to play middle linebacker, with Hightower and Collins flanking him to the outside.