FOXBOROUGH — Patriots coach Bill Belichick said linebacker Jerod Mayo is one of the most influential players on the team on Friday morning before the second day of training camp.
“He’s, I’d say, really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player,” Belichick said of the 28-year-old linebacker entering his seventh season. “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. When he was captain in his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys. Now he’s a more veteran player but still pretty attached to the younger guys, like Jamie Collins, [Dont’a] Hightower, guys like that, in addition to players not at his position. He’s got great work ethic, great presence on the football field, great personality: I’d say in a very good way professional, but also has good rapport with all the players and the coaches. I think he’s as well-respected as any player in the locker room. One of the best overall team leaders, players — kind of a glue, chemistry guy.”
Mayo, who missed all but six games last season with a torn pectoral muscle, was the team’s leading tackler from 2008 to 2012. Belichick said his importance as the quarterback of the defense was similar to that exhibited by Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison.
“Tedy had a little different personality, but a lot of the same charactersitics,” Belichick said. “When you play a position in the middle of the defense, it’s like playing quarterback: You’re in the middle of the offense. You have to be the main communicator, the person that everything runs through. That’s inherent in the position of linebacker, middle linebacker, just like it is on quarterback on offense.”
Belichick also said that wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who had a strong start to training camp Thursday, has one of the best work ethics on the team.
“Hardworking kid. Hardworking kid,” Belichick said of the 25-year-old receiver who had 32 receptions for 466 yards and four touchdowns last season. “One of our hardest workers. Really tries hard to do everything right. Very attentive. Very coachable. He’s very hardworking.”Follow Rob Harms on Twitter at @harms_way.