Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Like Wilfork's, Mayo's void a tough one to fill


The New England Patriots started the season with a plethora of injuries on offense. Now that the offense is getting healthy, the defense is picking up the slack on the injury front.

Two weeks after losing their defensive cog Vince Wilfork for the season, every-down linebacker Jerod Mayo, another team leader, may also be done for the year.

Mayo left Sunday's victory over the New Orleans Saints in a sling after reportedly suffering a torn pectoral muscle.

Les Carpenter of Yahoo! Sports reported that Mayo had surgery Tuesday, citing Chicago Bears linebacker D.J. Williams and Washington Redskins pass rusher Brian Orakpo as examples of defenders who had their season ended to the same injury within the last year.

Season-ending or not, it will be a while before Mayo is back. And filling the void he leaves will take multiple bodies, just as Wilfork's has. Mayo has played in just under 96 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps this year.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston notes that second round rookie Jamie Collins is the leader in the clubhouse to replace the Patriots' leading tackler in the base defense, adding that Dane Fletcher, a fourth-year veteran who has played mostly on special teams this season, will also be considered for an increased role.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick lauded Mayo at the end of his press conference Monday.

"Jerod has great versatility. That's what makes him such a good linebacker," Belichick said, via Patriots.com. "He's good in the running game and very instinctive. He's a good tackler and he can run. He's athletic and can play in pass coverage. He's a very good pass defender as well."

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