FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots middle linebacker Jerod Mayo was not in attendance for the media portion of the team’s practice Wednesday afternoon, and based on a comment from safety James Sanders, it sounds like Mayo won’t play Sunday against the New York Jets.

Sanders said second-year linebacker Gary Guyton will wear the green dot on his helmet against the Jets, which signals that he is wearing the headset that allows him to communicate with defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Mayo, who suffered a right knee injury Monday when the Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills, has been wearing the green dot throughout the summer.

“You can’t replace Jerod,” Sanders said Wednesday. “There is only one Jerod Mayo in the league, but we’ve got a lot of young players that can play and a lot of guys that can step up and fill his role.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during a conference call with the media Tuesday that Mayo’s injury didn’t appear to be season ending. The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Mayo suffered a sprained MCL, and his return to the field could range from either six to eight weeks, or less than that, according to the report’s conflicting sources.

Mayo was engaged with a Bills offensive lineman during the first quarter Monday night when his right knee buckled inward. Mayo remained on the ground for a couple of minutes before walking off the field to the bench. Just a short time later, he walked to the Patriots’ locker room.

The headset wasn’t as important against the Bills, according to Belichick, because Buffalo ran a no-huddle offense, and the defensive signals needed to be translated in visual form from coaches standing on the sideline.

“Injuries are a part of the game,” Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas said. “Whoever is out there, whoever that may be, their job is to go out there and make plays. Injuries are a part of the game, and unfortunately, that’s a part of it.”

Championship Belt
Safety Brandon McGowan was the Patriots’ practice player of the week during the team’s preparation for the Buffalo Bills. The honor is announced every Wednesday throughout the regular season.

In a new twist, McGowan was awarded a championship belt — WWF style — that was hanging over his locker. McGowan will also practice this week with the black jersey that has always been given out to the Patriots’ practice player of the week.

And as modest as McGowan was when speaking about it, the honor is very highly respected throughout the Patriots’ locker room.

“I just run around [and] have a little energy [at practice],” said McGowan, who also noted he planned to wear the belt Wednesday night. “That’s it.”

Locker Change

Defensive end/outside linebacker Derrick Burgess has taken over former linebacker Tedy Bruschi’s locker at Gillette Stadium. Burgess moved a few stalls to the right from his old location. The transition actually happened last week, but it was more noticeable Wednesday because Burgess addressed the media from his new stall.

Practice Report
Mayo was the only player who missed practice Wednesday. Special teamer Matthew Slater returned to the field for the first time after missing a string of practices due to a left arm injury he suffered in the Patriots' preseason finale against the New York Giants.