BOSTON (CBS) – Losing linebacker Jerod Mayo is a big blow to a struggling New England Patriots defense, but they will not let the injury get the best of them.
“We have to keep rolling, and we will keep rolling,” said nose tackle Vince Wilfork. “The ball won’t stop. I think when opportunities (come) for other guys to step up, they have to step up.”
“He’s the captain of this defense, captain on this team,” Devin McCourty said of Mayo. “He’s a leader, it’s always big to lose a guy like that.”
Now the Patriots will call upon the rest of the linebacking squad to step up in their leader’s absence, much like they did on Sunday.
“It’s about stepping up,” said McCourty. “Guys just kept playing, stepped in and played well. We believe in everyone on this team.”
Mayo, also a captain on defense, sprained his MCL in his left knee in Sunday’s 31-19 win over the Raiders and will be sidelined for the next month. His loss will be felt on a defense that has struggled the first month of the season, giving up the most yards in the NFL.
Fourth-year linebacker Gary Guyton was able to step in for Mayo on Sunday, and handled the play-calling on defense, a chore Mayo has done since coming into the league.
“Just go out there and make the calls. It’s as easy as that,” said Guyton, who had four tackles in the win.
The Patriots will now rely on heavily Guyton, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher and Tracy White. Although none of them are the impact players that Mayo is, making the most of their chances on the field will be key to the Patriots success on defense.
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And the Patriots have made sure when that time comes, their guys will be ready.
“Everyone practices. We practice certain situations with different personal in the game, different people in the game,” said Wilfork. “We were very confident that whoever came in the game knew what they were doing, and we can go with them. That’s one thing we try to do, hold one another accountable. You never know what can happen. People needed to step up today, and it happened.”
Now they need to keep it going.
“Whenever my number is called, it’s time to play,” said Guyton.