Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mayo will miss Spikes' physicality against the run


Back in uniform for the New England Patriots this season is linebacker Jerod Mayo, victim of a pectoral tear that cost him two-thirds of his 2013 season.

Who won't be returning, however, is former linemate Brandon Spikes, recent recipient of a one-year, free agent deal with the rival Bills.

That's a loss the Pats will surely feel this season, according to the 28-year-old defensive captain, but it's not something they won't be able to bounce back from.

"Brandon is a great player," Mayo said Tuesday, via Zuri Berry of The Boston Globe. "Obviously he’s not with us anymore. He brought a physicality to the game that’s kind of unprecedented as far as in the run game. You know he’s a good player but at the end of the day, he’s not a Patriot right now.

"I think we have a lot of talented guys in the room and a lot of talented guys in the front seven. So I think we’ll be fine."

Spikes took nearly 700 snaps last year in the middle of the Patriots linebacking corps, second only on the line to Dont'a Hightower in total snaps. Mayo was only able to muster a little more than 400 before his injury, while rookie Jamie Collins tallied around 300 in a backup role. 

Mayo called Collins a "great athlete" and a "versatile player" Tuesday, positive words from the veteran about Spikes' likely replacement. Collins did a superb job in the pass rush last season, and his numbers weren't bad against the run given his lack of in-game experience.

When it comes down to it though, Mayo sees the trio as one entity, a collective force that'll live and die by their ability to play as one.

"At the end of the day, we’re a unit," Mayo said. "We’re a linebacker unit, we don’t really talk about individual things. We’re trying to put the best linebacker unit on the field."

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