BOSTON (CBS) – With new rules in the NFL deterring defensemen from hitting a receiver up high, many are now aiming low around the knees to avoid a penalty or fine.
That was the case on Sunday when Cleveland’s T.J. Ward took out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski with a low hit in the third quarter. Ward’s helmet made contact with Gronk’s right knee, and the tight end is now lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Monday morning, discussing how different it is to play defense with rules protecting offensive players.
“It is tough,” said Mayo. “It’s tough to tackle those receivers going up for the ball. I’ve always found it difficult to tackle quarterbacks. They’re not the most athletic players on the field, but you don’t know if they going to slide or try to run you over or dive for the first down. It is tough; it’s a small area and you’re trying to hit a moving target. So it’s very difficult for a defensive player.”
Esiason On Toucher & Rich: Low Hits A Huge Question Mark Going Forward
“They didn’t throw a flag or anything like that, so I guess it was a legal hit,” said Mayo. “Anytime you want to tackle a guy who is a good runner, a running back or tight end, they can’t run without their legs so you go for their legs.”
Mayo has been sidelined since Week 6 when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle against the New Orleans Saints. Like injured nose tackle Vince Wilfork, Mayo remains around the team and is helping any way he can from the sidelines.
“I try to tell those guys what I see from the sideline. You see a lot more from the sideline than when you’re playing the game,” said Mayo. “When they come to the sideline I just tell them what I see.”
“There are a lot of emotions going on throughout the game. I want to be out there with the guys but they’re doing a good job as far as communication and getting everyone on the same page. We have a lot of moving parts right now, but we are getting better every day. It is tough, but I’m rooting for the guys every day and cheering them on.”
Mayo is also doing plenty of good in his time off. On Tuesday, Mayo will be delivering notes of hope to cancer patients at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston.
“I’ll go to spread as much hope as possible. I’m all about having that positive attitude,” said Mayo. “Things can be taken away from you, money or your health, but any time you have a sliver of hope you have a chance.”
Also, hear all about Mayo’s new line of mayonnaise: