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Patriots place Jerod Mayo on season-ending injured reserve, re-sign Andre Neblett 10.16.13 at 9:52 am ET
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Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

FOXBORO — Jerod Mayo has played his last snap of the season for the Patriots.

Bill Belichick addressed the injury on Wednesday.

“It’s a medical decision,” Belichick said. “He does a lot for us.”

The loss of Mayo as captain means the Patriots will be playing without their two captains on defense. Belichick was asked if there’s a chance he could be replaced.

“If we think that it’s the best thing to do, that’s what we’ll do,” Belichick said.

The Patriots placed the linebacker on injured reserve following surgery on his torn pectoral muscle this week.

Mayo injured the muscle on a tackle of Darren Sproles in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Saints. On the play before New Orleans’ go-ahead touchdown, Sproles came over the middle and was crushed by Mayo and teammate Steve Gregory. Both players laid on the ground for several minutes and Mayo immediately grabbed for his right shoulder and chest area before making his way off the field under his own power.

He did not return. Mayo had played in all but eight of New England’s 399 defensive snaps for the Patriots this season before missing the final seven of the game on Sunday. Mayo didn’t miss a snap against the Bills, Jets, Falcons and Bengals.

The news of Mayo’s surgery comes two weeks after Vince Wilfork had season-ending surgery on his torn right Achilles.

To replace Mayo’s spot on the roster, the team re-signed Andre Neblett and signed cornerback Travis Howard.

Neblett, 25, was signed by the Patriots last Wednesday and released three days later to make room for defensive lineman Marcus Forston. He is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Panthers after joining Carolina as a rookie free agent out of Temple in in 2010. The 6-foot, 310-pounder signed with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent on May 6 but was released by the Buccaneers on Aug. 31. Neblett played in 30 games with seven starts during his three seasons with the Panthers and registered 28 total tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries. Last season, he played in 11 games with two starts and recorded 11 tackles and a half-sack.

Howard, 23, was originally signed by the Texans as a rookie free agent out of Ohio State on May 10. The 6-foot-1, 197-pounder was released by Houston on Aug. 27. He started every game as a junior and senior at Ohio State and totaled 81 tackles, six interceptions and 11 passes defensed during that time.

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Analysis: What does loss of Jerod Mayo mean for Patriots defense? 10.15.13 at 9:03 pm ET
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Will Brandon Spikes shoulder more of the load with Jerod Mayo out injured. (AP).

Will Brandon Spikes (55) shoulder more of the load with Jerod Mayo out injured? (AP).

The loss of Jerod Mayo for any extended period of time would be a substantial blow to a New England defense that is already dealing with the loss of veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, and would force Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia to get even more creative when it comes to designing a defense.

Mayo isn’t the sort of elite level defender who gets mentioned in the same breath as other middle/inside linebackers like Patrick Willis, but his durability, consistency and leadership have proven invaluable to the Patriots defense since he arrived as a first-round pick in 2008. The Tennessee product is a tackle machine — he’s been at or near the top of the league in tackles since he was a rookie — but every good middle linebacker will pick up a ton of tackles. His value to the defense is measured in his durability (he’s missed just four of a possible 86 games over the course of his first five-plus years in the league, and has played in 399 of New England’s 407 defensive snaps this year before being injured — 98 percent), as well as his overall ability to do many things, and do them at a consistently high level.

He’s not considered an elite run-stopper, but is still consistently better than 75 percent of the rest of the league when it comes to run defense. He’s not the first choice when it comes to working as a coverage linebacker, but a glimpse at the film of his work over the last few weeks will tell you all you need to know about his ability when he’s matched up against running backs and the occasional tight end out of the backfield. And while he’s not the senior member of the defense — that honor still falls to Wilfork — there’s a reason he was named a captain in his second season in the league. He was the natural choice to wear the green dot on the back of his helmet at an early age, and the 27-year-old is wise beyond his years. He has consistently worked as a mentor for younger linebackers like Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes, Jamie Collins and Dane Fletcher.

(In the context of this discussion it’s also worth mentioning that Mayo has a legendarily high pain threshold. When he injured his right knee in the 2009 opener against the Bills, teammates marveled at the fact that he returned as fast as he did. Mayo ended up missing three games, and still returned in time to lead the team in tackles. If there’s anyone who might try to push through and come back sooner than expected, it’s Mayo.)

Going forward, as previously stated, this will force the Patriots to try to get creative with some of their defensive schemes. When it comes to the linebacking corps, the bulk of the leadership duties will likely fall to Hightower, who has also shown some positional versatility in that he’s played on the inside and outside — that ability to play both spots could paper over some personnel deficiencies.

This also opens the door for more playing time for a pair of intriguing possibilities in Spikes and Collins. With the Patriots favoring nickel as their base defense through much of the first six games of the season, Spikes has been the odd man out more often than not. But going forward, the Patriots could put together a scheme that has Spikes in the middle — even thought he’s not as good in coverage as Mayo — as well as Hightower and either Collins or Fletcher. Collins could also see more time as a possibility working in coverage on passing downs, trying to replicate Mayo’s work as a pass defender.

As WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia reports, a source indicates that Mayo is out at least eight weeks but could return depending on the severity. If the tear was severe, then the linebacker is likely done for the season. The Patriots have multiple options with Mayo at this point: they could simply wait, see how he responds to treatment and rehab, and remain open to the possibility he could be back later in the season. Or they could place him on injured reserve, which would end his season. One thing to remember is that they have already used their short-term IR designation on running back Shane Vereen, who is eligible to return from a Week 1 wrist injury in Week 11.

Regardless of what the team decides to do, it’s a serious blow to the hopes of a team that has opened the year 5-1. On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots had been playing very well to start the 2013 season, better than most anyone had envisioned when the season began. But overcoming the loss of Wilfork and possibly Mayo — as well as the uncertain future facing Aqib Talib and Tommy Kelly because of injuries they’ve suffered over the last two weeks — will serve as a colossal challenge to a unit that was just starting to come into its own.

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Source: Jerod Mayo out at least eight weeks after surgery on torn pectoral muscle at 8:15 pm ET
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Jerod Mayo (AP)

Jerod Mayo (AP)

The injuries continue to mount for the Patriots.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo has had surgery on a torn pectoral muscle and is out at least eight weeks, a source tells WEEI.com. Depending on the severity of the tear and the subsequent rehab, Mayo could return to working out in six weeks. If there’s a chance the captain of the Patriots defense could return for late in the season and the playoffs, the team is likely to hold off placing him on injured reserve.

If the tear was more severe, then Mayo has likely played his last snap of the season.

The story was first reported by Yahoo’s Les Carpenter.

Mayo injured the muscle on a tackle of Darren Sproles in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Saints. On the play before New Orleans’ go-ahead touchdown, Sproles came over the middle and was crushed by Mayo. Both players laid on the ground for several minutes and Mayo immediately grabbed for his right shoulder and chest area before making his way off the field under his own power.

He did not return. Mayo had played in all but eight of New England’s 399 defensive snaps for the Patriots this season before missing the final seven of the game on Sunday. Mayo didn’t miss a snap against the Bills, Jets, Falcons and Bengals.

The news of Mayo’s surgery comes two weeks after Vince Wilfork had season-ending surgery on his torn right Achilles. WEEI.com’s Chris Price takes an in-depth look at what the domino effect is likely to be with the two defensive captains out of the middle of the Patriots defense for an indefinite period.

On Sunday, the Patriots also lost Danny Amendola to a head injury in the second half. He did not return. Cornerback Aqib Talib left with a hip injury and offensive lineman Dan Connolly left with a head injury.

 

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Jerod Mayo confident ‘next man up’ will fill void of Vince Wilfork 10.01.13 at 10:18 am ET
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Jerod Mayo is ready to step up and accept the mantle of leadership on defense. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jerod Mayo is ready to step up and accept the mantle of leadership on defense. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

With Vince Wilfork now likely gone for the season, the mantle of leadership on the defense moves to the broad shoulders of linebacker Jerod Mayo.

The Patriots, like any football team, always adopt the mantra of “next man up” when a player goes down, even a proven star player as is the case with Wilfork. That won’t change now as Mayo – co-captain of the defense – pointed out.

“We always talk about next man up. We have a lot of talented guys on our team,” Mayo said. “I think Vince got hurt in the first quarter [Sunday] and guys really stepped up and played well for us. We ended up getting the victory which is always is a good thing. That’s our mentality, is the next man up and I’m sure – we have a lot of great people, great players, great leaders in the organization in general so I know I expect that to continue on.”

“Obviously, Vince is a huge asset for our team, not only on the field but off the field. He’s a great leader, he demands double teams in the run game and he also coordinates some of the rushes in the pass game, so a great asset for this defense.”

Actually, in the Patriots case, it’s the next men up.

The first two candidates are Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, both of whom saw action on Sunday night, along with Tommy Kelly inside. Mayo believes both can definitely hold their own.

“Definitely. Those guys practice hard, they’re always in the film room, the coaches always have them ready to go. I think that’s what it’s all about, is preparation during the week and those guys prepare well and they came in to the game and did some good things. Obviously we still have a lot of work to do and gelling together to get that chemistry but that comes with time. But last night was a good night for them.”

As for the possible return of Richard Seymour, don’t expect No. 93 to be making a comeback to New England, as was reported on Monday.

Clearly, Sunday night went beyond football for the Patriots. It was evident from the moment Tom Brady came over to check on Wilfork that his teammates felt for him. There was a game to be won but then after, their thoughts turned to the man who has anchored the middle of the line since 2004.

“Obviously Vince has been a staple for a long time. He rarely goes out with injuries so it was very shocking and surprising to see my friend go down like that. Hopefully he’s OK; we’ll see what happens. But it definitely caught me off-guard a little bit, because I’m used to always having him in there with me.

“I spoke with him after the game. He’s in good spirits and we’ll see what happens.”

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Stevan Ridley (knee) absent while 15 limited at Patriots practice 09.25.13 at 5:59 pm ET
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Stevan Ridley (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Stevan Ridley (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Danny Amendola (groin), Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (ankle) were among 15 players limited at practice on Wednesday while Stevan Ridley (knee), Matthew Slater (wrist) and Vince Wilfork (Achilles) were the three missing player as the Patriots returned to practice in preparation for the Bengals this Sunday in Cincinnati. Wilfork is expected to go on season-ending injured reserve shortly after his surgery on Tuesday to repair the Achilles tendon tear on Sunday night in Atlanta.

The Bengals had three key players missing from practice as defensive end Michael Johnson (concussion) and cornerbacks Leon Hall (hamstring) and Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) were all absent.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
RB Stevan Ridley (knee)
ST Matthew Slater (wrist)
NT Vince Wilfork (Achilles)

Limited Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
DB Kyle Arrington (groin)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
CB Marquice Cole (hamsting)
WR Aaron Dobson (neck)
DB Nate Ebner (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm)
LB Dont’a Hightower (knee)
LB Jerod Mayo (ankle)
TE Zach Sudfeld (hamstring)
OL Will Svitek (knee)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (shoulder)
OL Sebastian Vollmer (foot)
RB Leon Washington (thigh)
DB Tavon Wilson (hamstring)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Jerod Mayo on M&M: ‘Fourth-down conversions were huge for us’ 09.23.13 at 11:50 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss New England’s dominant defensive performance in the team’s 23-3 win over the Buccaneers.

Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

The Patriots moved to 3-0 on the season thanks to a defensive unit that sacked quarterback Josh Freeman three times and forced him into 19-of-41 passing with one interception.

New England’s third- and fourth-down defense was superb. Tampa Bay went just 5-for-14 on third down, and the Bucs failed on all four fourth-down attempts.

“Anytime we can get the ball back into our offense’s hands, it’s always going to be huge, we call it stealing possessions,” said Mayo, who recorded a team-high nine tackles and added a sack Sunday. “And like you said, those fourth-down conversions were huge for us, and they turned into points for our offense.”

With an offense that features a number of rookie wide receivers, and no healthy go-to tight end, the unit needs time to work out the inevitable kinks. The defense has bought the offense that time, even though Mayo says his group is not concerned with the offense’s development.

“Coach always tells us as a defense, our job is to keep people out of the end zone no matter what our offense is doing,” Mayo said. “We never really think about that, we always just think about stealing possessions and getting the ball back to those guys.”

In addition to shutting down Freeman, the defense kept second-year running back Doug Martin at bay. The shifty 5-foot-9 back ran for 88 yards on 20 carries.

“Anytime you got a guy like that running behind 6-6 guys, it’s difficult to find him,” said Mayo. “He’s a very explosive runner, but I think the guys did a good job getting 11 guys to the football and bringing him to the ground.”

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Chandler Jones: ‘Hopefully we can just keep doing that every week’ 09.22.13 at 10:09 pm ET
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Jerod Mayo, led the Patriots with nine tackles Sunday in their win over the Buccaneers.

Jerod Mayo led the Patriots with nine tackles in their win over the Buccaneers Sunday afternoon. (AP)

FOXBORO — Sunday’s 23-3 win over the Buccaneers may have been the Patriots’ best performance yet as they didn’t allow a touchdown for the first time all season and kept the Bucs off the scoreboard for the final 46 minutes, 47 seconds of game action. The defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since there were just over five minutes left in the third quarter against the Jets on Sept. 12.

“It felt good,” defensive end Chandler Jones said of keeping the Bucs out of the end zone. “It felt really good as a defense and hopefully we can just keep that going. You know, it felt good. We held their offense down to a few points today, and hopefully we can just keep doing that every week.”

Against the Jets it was the secondary leading the way as they forced four turnovers, including three interceptions, but Sunday it was the front-seven, as they combined to hold Buccaneers star running back Doug Martin to just 88 yards rushing, this after a 144-yard performance in Week 2 against the Saints. They also sacked Freeman three times and between the second and third quarters allowed the Bucs across midfield twice.

“We’re doing good as a defense overall, not just the [defensive] line,” said Jones, who had one of the three sacks. “Those sacks, a lot of the stuff you don’t see, a lot of those sacks are coverage sacks. Our secondary is doing an outstanding job of jamming receivers up or just covering guys up and the quarterback has no one to throw to.”

The game plan against the Bucs was much different from last week as the team stayed away from their newly unveiled 4-2-5 scheme, primarily because there was more of a focus on stopping the run. This allowed their line backing core to shine as Jerod Mayo led the way with nine tackles, followed by Brandon Spikes with seven. Second-year player Dont’a Hightower also had a strong game finishing with three tackles.

The defense also extended their streak of forcing a turnover in 30 straight games with Aqib Talib’s interception at the end of the second quarter, which set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time expired in the first half. It was Talib’s third interception of the season.

“We had a good idea of the concepts they like to run in the two-minute [drill] before the end of the half,” Talib said. “[Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia] called the perfect play for what they like to do and we made the play.”

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