Bill Belichick feels very 'disappointed' about putting his guy Jerod Mayo on IR once again

Mike Petraglia
January 21, 2016 - 1:04 am

[caption id="attachment_105061" align="alignright" width="400"]Jerod Mayo (51) draws a bead on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the AFC divisonal round. (Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports)Jerod Mayo (51) draws a bead on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the AFC divisonal round. (Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports)[/caption] FOXBORO -- If this is it for Jerod Mayo in New England, it's been a great run for the eight-year veteran linebacker with the Patriots. When Mayo was drafted out of Tennessee in the first round (10th overall) by the Patriots, Mayo immediately established himself as one of the best linebackers on the team and a leader in the locker room. He was voted captain in just his third season, impressive by any NFL standard but really remarkable considering he was playing for Bill Belichick in New England, where leadership isn't bestowed, it's earned. But now, for the third time in as many seasons, his season will end on injured reserve. In 2013, his season came to an end when he tore his pectoral muscle in a comeback win over the Saints in mid-October. In 2014, he took a wrong step on the turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium, again in mid-October and his season was over with a torn patellar tendon. On Saturday, in the second half, his shoulder gave out and he didn't return. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday. "Yeah, it's tough. I feel bad for Jerod," Bill Belichick said. "Nobody's worked harder than he has, and I know how disappointed he is and we all are. And I personally am because I've seen the hard work that he's put in, so it's very unfortunate." Belichick has often praised Mayo's ability in calling defenses and providing leadership on and off the field. Last year, Belichick went as far as to call Mayo one of the best team leaders he's ever been around in his time coaching NFL players. One of those Mayo has led is Devin McCourty, who came to New England just two years after Mayo started in 2008. "It'€™s tough. Mayo is kind of the heart and soul of not just the defense, but really the team," McCourty said. "He gets everybody going. Being able to watch him, he'€™s a special leader. Energy level is always high. No matter if it'€™s 6:30 in the morning and the training room is packed with treatments and guys are trying to get healthy. He'€™s usually in there getting guys going. "I think it'€™s a big loss for us as a team, but this time of year, playing in the NFL, things happen. I just hate it for him, personally, you know he'€™s battled and worked his way back from different injuries and being able to help us out a lot this year defensively I think has been huge for us so knowing him, he'€™s a tough guy. He'€™s going to rehab and do everything he has to do, but it just sucks he won'€™t be able to be out there on the field playing." Mayo was still productive this season, placing seventh on the defense in total tackles with 47 and one sack. But his playing time diminished significantly with the emergence of Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Several times this season, like when Hightower missed two games with a knee injury, it was Jonathan Freeny, not Mayo, who got the majority of snaps in Hightower's place at middle linebacker. And it was Freeny again who came to the rescue in the second half against the Chiefs and played major minutes. Last April, Mayo, in yet another leadership move for the best interest of the team, signed a one-year $4.5 million restructured contract. That deal helped the Patriots clear $4.1875 million in 2015 cap space. The next two years are option years for the team, options that are not likely to be picked up since the Patriots would owe him $4 million in '16 and $2 million in '17. Mayo was on the field for just seven of the 89 defensive snaps Saturday before leaving for what could be a final time in a Patriots uniform. DraftKings DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.