One ingredient missing with Mayo

DALLAS -- Entering his fourth NFL season in 2011, Jerod Mayo is in the discussion with some of the league's top inside linebackers who play in 3-4 defenses.

Derrick Brooks, a 14-year NFL veteran who is here at the Super Bowl working as an analyst for Sirius NFL Radio, was asked to assess what he sees from Mayo.

"I think he's developing," Brooks answered. "I'd like to see, in their system, him blitzing a little bit more. That's one part of his game that needs development and I think he'll be really, really good at it. Right now, he makes a ton of tackles and lines the defenses to make plays, but I'd like to see him more involved in the blitz package. I think there are some skills there that he can use to elevate his game to the next level."

That has been a topic of debate among some New England followers when it comes to Mayo, namely how much stock to put in his high tackle total while balancing that against other stats like sacks (2 in 2010), forced fumbles (1) and interceptions (0).

Mayo earned his first Pro Bowl berth this year and Brooks views him in the upper echelon of 3-4 inside linebackers along with the likes of Pittsburgh's Lawrence Timmons, San Francisco's Patrick Willis and Baltimore's Ray Lewis. Brooks also felt Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson had a top year as a 3-4 inside linebacker, and he's been a fan of Bradie James in Dallas, even though he felt James had an off year in 2010.

At one point in 2009, Brooks thought he'd have a chance to play alongside Mayo in New England. Bill Belichick had reached out during the season, setting up a visit for him to come to New England.

But the Patriots ended up signing Junior Seau instead.