FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is in his 40th NFL season, so when he says a player rates as highly as anyone that he has coached, it carries significant meaning.
Seventh-year linebacker Jerod Mayo should be flattered.
“I think he’s as well respected as any player in the locker room and I’d say one of the best overall team leaders, players and kind of a glue chemistry guy that I’ve been around,” Belichick said of Mayo on Friday morning before the team’s second training camp practice.
“I think he means a lot to our team. I’d say he’s really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player. Not that there aren’t other players that are instrumental in that, but I think he touches pretty much everybody, not just the defensive players but all the guys -- not just the older guys, but the younger guys. Even when he was captain in his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys. Now he’s more of a veteran player, but still pretty attached to the younger guys, like Jamie Collins and [Dont'a] Hightower and guys like that.
“He has a great work ethic, a great presence on the football field, and a great personality that in a very good way is professional but also has a good rapport with all the players and coaches.”
Belichick’s remarks underscore how deeply the Patriots were affected by Mayo’s season-ending torn pectoral injury on Oct. 13.
Asked if Mayo was similar to past Patriots linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel, Belichick said: “I’d say more Bruschi, but different. Similar, but different. Tedy had a little bit of a different personality, but a lot of the same characteristics. When you’re playing a position in the middle of the defense, it’s like playing quarterback in the middle of the offense, you have to be the main communicator and the person that everyone runs through. That’s inherent in the position, so some of that comes with the position.”
A few other sound bites and notes from Belichick:
Thompkins' work ethic stands out: Asked about second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, Belichick began by citing his work ethic. "One of our hardest workers," Belichick relayed. "He really tries hard to do everything right. He’s very attentive. He’s very coachable." Thompkins had a solid first day of practice Thursday, drawing praise from quarterback Tom Brady for one diving catch.
Not a big fan of point of emphasis: With media-based chatter that the NFL is planning to stress a point of emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding, Belichick was asked how he teaches his players with this in mind. The topic of a “point of emphasis” struck a chord with Belichick. "The league does this every year -- it doesn’t change a rule it just says 'we’re going to emphasize it differently,' well I don’t really know what that means because we’ve tried to play by the rules from the beginning. So I think you definitely have to get to the preseason or in some cases the regular season to see how that’s going to be. ... The ones that are cut and dried, we'll accept them for what they are. The ones that would change the shade of gray from light to dark, or dark to light, I think there's a little of seeing what that is. That being said, that's kind of the way it is the National Football League anyway." On a related note, officials are scheduled to be in Patriots training camp the week in which the Eagles are here prior to the second preseason game.
Full pads tomorrow: Belichick said the team’s first practice in full pads will be Saturday, as expected.