Lost in all the hype of the New England Patriots defeating the New Orleans Saints last Sunday was the rash of injuries that hit some Patriots players. One of those players is very integral to the team’s success and could be seriously injured. That player is inside linebacker Jerod Mayo.
Mayo went down in the fourth quarter with what was later discovered to be a shoulder injury. The injury occurred when he collided with Saints running back Darren Sproles and another Patriots teammate. It is now being reported that he left Gillette Stadium in a sling. Things went fine without Mayo for the rest of the game, but that will not be the case if he misses an extended period of time.
Mayo is not only the unquestioned leader of this defense (especially now since defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is out for the season), but he is a playmaker in all facets of the game. Mayo defends the run beautifully, always stepping up to make a tackle even if there’s a huge pile. He’s not the best linebacker in pass coverage, but he is athletic enough to not get burned for big plays. Plus Mayo has value as an extra pass rusher, as he is able to beat offensive guards on blitzes.
It goes without saying that the New England defense would decline if Mayo starts missing games. Only he and Dont’a Hightower have real experience playing inside linebacker in Bill Belichick‘s nickel defense. Mayo is an every-down defender whose production simply cannot be replaced by one player.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.