Patriots fans noticed something different about Jerod Mayo on Thursday night at the Linc in Philadelphia.
The second-year linebacker was sporting the green dot on his helmet — marking him as the one defender with a radio receiver inside his earpiece allowing him to hear the calls of his coaches. The honor of being New England's defensive play-caller is pretty inspiring, especially considering that the unit consists of such veterans as Tedy Bruschi, Adalius Thomas, Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork.
"Well, he's in the middle of the defense," Bill Belichick said of Mayo on Sunday. "He has to make a lot of our defensive calls anyway just because of his locations, just like the quarterback does on the other side of the ball."
His speed and sideline-to-sideline coverage may very well force the Pats to use a four-man front on defense, granting the middle linebacker the freedom to roam all over the gridiron. In Thursday's 27-25 win over the Eagles, last season's AP Defensive Rookie of the Year registered a game-high five total tackles. The 10th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft had 128 total tackles in 2008.
"That's really what it centers around," the coach added. "Middle linebackers and safeties, from an alignment standpoint, are in the best position to make those calls and — as we talked about last year — you want to have the ability to communicate with somebody who's going to be out there a lot so that's another factor."