|Q&A with Jerod Mayo, 4/16||04.16.09 at 10:59 am ET|
A few reporters got some time with Jerod Mayo here at Gillette Stadium, and the linebacker touched on a number of topics, including what we wants to work on in the offseason, what he was thinking at this time last year and how to survive in New England as a rookie.
How does it feel not to be a rookie anymore?
No, not yet. I have a few games to go before I have veteran status.
Do you feel like you’re more than a rookie?
To be honest, I have to wait until we get back into camp or something like that, to se if I’m still opening up doors for people and everything like that. I’ll let you know then.
You’ve been spending a lot of time here in the offseason — why did you decide to do that?
To be honest, I feel like I can get so much better. Last year, I felt like the season I had was OK, but I felt like I could have made so many more plays, big plays, especially. I’ve just been watching the tape from last year, in the weight room, and trying to get better and learn from these vets.
Is there one particular part of your game you want to improve upon?
To be honest, I know this is going to sound like a cliché, but my whole game. A lot of people say I did things well, some things I did poorly, but I feel like I can improve in all aspects of my game. I really … I knew the playbook last year, but I didn’t know it to the point where I was out there reacting. The same time, I was out there thinking and trying to use my athleticism to make up for mistakes.
You mentioned big plays — you had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, but no interceptions and no sacks. Is that the kind of stuff you’re talking about?
Most definitely. Playing linebacker, that’s the type of thing that you’re expected to do — make interceptions, force fumbles and things like that. That’s one aspect of my game I’m looking forward to improving this year.
Are you expected to do that in the position you’re in? Ted Johnson didn’t have those kind of numbers and he was a Pro Bowler.
Right. To be honest with you, the expectations that I have for myself are to do those things, and that’s what I expect myself to do this year.
Since the season ended, how much time have you spent here? Have you been home?
I’ve been home once. Right after the season I went home for a couple of days. I’ve been here ever since, through all the weather and everything. I’ve gotten used to it.
What was it for you at this time last year?
To be honest, it was pretty hectic. I think I went on 13 visits last year, and I got a little fat and things like that, but I was happy to get home and spend time with my family because I knew that after I got drafted, it was going to be really busy. I was just blessed and fortunate to be able to come to a place such as New England and to go as high as I did.
Tell us about Robert Ayers.
He’s very versatile. He can play linebacker, he can play defensive tackle, defensive end. Whatever you want. He was actually my roommate in college, so I know him on a personal level as well. He’s a competitor. He’s a great player.
How has your life changed in the last year?
First and foremost, I don’t have to type any papers or meet with any tutors. That’s probably the biggest thing. [laughter] At the same time, I probably spend most of time here (at the facility). Even in college, I did the same thing. They had to get me … they said, ‘Get out of the weight room. Get out of here. Give your body a rest.’ It really hasn’t changed that much.
These days, your tutors are named Adalius and Tedy…
[laughter] Yeah, yeah. Coach Belichick. That’s my teacher.
Tedy was saying the other day they couldn’t get you out of the weight room…
I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied. I always feel like I could get better. I play with a chip on my shoulder and that’s how I live my life as well — wanting to prove the doubters wrong. You have to force me out of here — lock the doors, or something.
You were Defensive Rookie of the Year and you say your year was OK? You really feel that way?
Most definitely. I got that from my mother. I could go out there and have 50 tackles in a game and she would say ‘You missed three.’ [laughter] That’s just the way it was at home.
On film room work in the offseason…
I’m looking at myself and how I played certain plays and how I can get better at certain plays. The mental aspect of the game at this level is very vital, and I spend a lot of time in the film room.
On advice for new rookies…
Just to listen. I know last year every time I did an interview, you heard me say I wanted to be a sponge and soak up as much as I could, and that’s the advice I would give them. There are a lot of great veterans on this team, and I’m sure it’s not like this everywhere, but if you come here, you have a lot of older players to learn from.
On the bond between the younger linebackers like Vince Redd, Shawn Crable and Gary Guyton…
Most definitely. That’s the biggest area for improvement, from Year One to Year Two. That’s what we’re looking forward to. Crable got hurt last year, hopefully he can come back this year and prove the doubters wrong, because we all have a chip on our shoulder.
Is it fair to say that, the way your position is set up, you’re going to be a playmaker at the line of scrimmage, moreso than behind the line of scrimmage, or do you not look at it that way?
To be honest, I don’t look at it that way. I try to make plays all over the field. Whatever is asked of me, I try to get done.
But in terms of getting to the quarterback, do you really have an opportunity to do that? You mentioned sacks before…
To be honest, I didn’t do as much blitzing, but hopefully, this year, my role will expand in that aspect.
Is that something that comes with knowing the system?
Most definitely. They don’t want to put too much responsibility on me.
Are you in a position, typically, to make interceptions, because you are an at-the-line, around-the-ball kind of guy…
I’m close to the line of scrimmage, but at the same time, I’m sure the coaches are expecting me to make the plays back there as well. They put a lot on you here. They put a lot on the linebackers here to make the calls and make the adjustments, but also to make big plays.
Did you even have any close calls last year?
The Oakland game, that ball went through my hands. But they expected me to catch it.
Has coach said anything to you about having the “green-dot” helmet?
Nah, not yet. I’ve talked to Coach Belichick one time since I’ve been here. We haven’t really talked about it. But if that’s a role that’s placed upon me, I’m willing to do that. I did it a little bit last year.
You would be the natural successor to do that — would you be comfortable with that?
Yeah, I’d be comfortable.
What happened in that one conversation with Coach? Did he lay down some things he wanted you to work on?
No, it was just sit down to see how I was doing. I’ve been up here, and he wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting depressed with all the weather. [laughter]
You a full-fledged New Englander now?
Yeah, I think I am.
Do you plan to stay here straight through training camp, or will you take another break and go home?
I’ll probably stay here, but not straight through training camp. I’ll probably go home to some hot weather for a little bit. In the meantime, I’ll be up here.
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