|LB leaders: Bruschi, Vrabel and now… Mayo||08.30.10 at 4:09 pm ET|
FOXBORO –It has been the most-often asked question since Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel left before the 2009 season.
Who will fill the leadership void on defense for the Patriots?
As as much as coach Bill Belichick relies on his linebackers to call his defense and be responsible for so much at once, that leader is naturally a linebacker.
Jerod Mayo stepped forward Monday and said that while he’s still only 24, he’s ready to take on that task full-time this season, his third in the NFL.
Mayo said he’s still learning the Belichick system but now feels comfortable in teaching younger players what is expected on defense every game.
“I’m still a young guy, maybe not a young guy as far as years played on the team, but I’m 24 years old and still learning from guys like [Vince] Wilfork and [Ty] Warren, even though he’s not here right now, I’m still learning from guys like that,” Mayo said following Monday’s practice. “If the guys have a question for me, I’m there to answer it, try to play the same role that Bruschi and Vrabel played for me when I first came here.”
Clearly, the player most obviously in his sights is fellow linebackerBrandon Spikes, the talented rookie playmaker out of Florida who figures to be a big run-stopper and a foundation of Belichick’s interior D for years to come.
Vrabel is entering his second season in Kansas City after eight seasons and three Super Bowl titles in New England and four before that in Pittsburgh. Bruschi is now sharing his football wisdom with the world on ESPN.
And Mayo is left behind in Foxboro to carry the leadership torch along with Wilfork and Warren.
As for last Thursday, when the Patriots failed time after time to get off the field on defense on third down, Mayo said the team was reminded that’s not acceptable starting Sept. 12 against Cincinnati.
“We did get some humble pie and we didn’t play like we were supposed to,” Mayo said.
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