Mayo Working Hard In Camp

FOXBORO -- Jerod Mayo isn't just another rookie linebacker, he may soon become the starter for the Patriots – something almost unheard of under the Bill Belichick era. Mayo has impressed in offseason, and continues his development through the first weekend of training camp…

Upon his selection with the 10th pick in April's draft, linebacker Jerod Mayo challenged local writers to come up with any and all headlines playing off the athletic playmaker's condiment-coinciding last name. Many publications took the challenge in the days following the draft, but now that Mayo is in camp working with the defending AFC champs, the opportunities for such headlines should only grow as the summer evolves.

Mayo was on the field for the second workout of the first day of New England training camp July 24 after reaching a reported five-year rookie deal worth $18.9 million, with $13.8 million in guarantees. The following afternoon, after the first outdoor session of his rookie camp, Mayo met with the media and expressed contentment that he was able to get his deal done and miss minimal time to begin his career.

"It's been a long couple of days, but at the same time, I wanted to get here on time and get with the guys," Mayo said following a hot July 25 practice, although his duties weren't yet done as he was continuing rookie tradition by carrying Tedy Bruschi and Adalius Thomas' pads to the locker room. "It's like my family now. I really love these guys."

All rookies, especially a linebacker in Bill Belichick's 3-4 front, need as much time as possible to get acclimated to the system. Now signed, sealed, delivered and working out, Mayo has a full summer to build toward game speed.

"It's a different game from college football," Mayo said. "I still have a lot to learn. Bruschi and those guys have been helping me out a lot so I'm just trying to be a sponge and learn as much as I can."

Belichick sounded satisfied with his top pick's early work when he spoke about Mayo's development and the fact that the work he'd done between the draft and the start of camp will go a long way toward forming his defensive foundation in New England.

"It is good to have him," Belichick said of getting the former Tennessee star under contract and in camp. "We worked with him in the spring and I think he learned a lot there. He has a long way to go.

"This is the opportunity for players to get in pads to work some of the techniques at full speed in a contact setting and that is a little bit different than the passing camp. I know he is at a position where that will be important and I am glad we got him and had a chance to work with him (on the first day of camp). He really didn't miss that much and he did benefit from all the spring camps. I think he can get into the mainstream with everybody by the end of today and we will see what he can do."

Before long, papers across New England may be taking on Mayo's challenge of creative headlines on a regular basis as high expectations await the rookie as training camp work marches toward regular-season action.

More: Will Mayo Start?

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