With the retirements of Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi and the trade that sent Mike Vrabel to Kansas City, much of the talk in the summer centered around who would fill the leadership void in the Patriots' locker room.
As ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss explained in detail, that role has unquestionably been seized by veteran linebacker Junior Seau.
The Patriots have a young defense that had an average age of 26 years old in Week 1 — the team's lowest average since 1997, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. So with such an impressionable crop of youngsters, Bill Belichick has been able to step back and allow Seau to do the motivating before games.
"Before every game, you have to get your popcorn ready because you can't wait to hear those speeches, let alone see his face and the emotion that comes out," Kyle Arrington, 23, told Reiss. "It's really indescribable how you can hear it in his voice — the emotion, the passion, the hunger."
Seau, who told Reiss that he came to the Patriots to help the team win and not to make the Pro Bowl, has
had limited contributions on the field. He's recorded just four tackles
in two games, but he said he'll be ready when called upon.
Rookie defensive lineman Myron Pryor said the effect that Seau has off the field is tangible.
"I feel like he brought a new spark," Pryor said. "Just listening to him, getting the team pumped up ready to go, everyone gets in that mode, which we might not have had before he got here. Once he got here, it was a whole different story to have an older guy who has been around and doing it for a long time. We all have respect for him. It makes us feel like we're on top of the world when he talks to us."