Despite making it to the Super Bowl once again, the New England Patriots showed a glaring weakness a season ago. It was the team’s defense. After giving up nearly 300 yards per game and over 21 points per game a season ago, the Patriots made it their focus to improve on that side of the ball. The new-look defense is bigger, faster and more athletic. Now the Pats still have familiar faces like defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive leader Jerod Mayo but they also used their first three picks in the draft to bring in Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones and Tavon Wilson to help improve that side of the ball. The Patriots offense is one of the most explosive in the NFL and now their new-look defense is looking to hold up their end of the bargain.
Jerod Mayo joined WEEI in Boston with the Big Show to talk about how the defense looks, what he thinks about rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower, what he makes of the Tennessee Titans, on the replacement officials and how tough it is to practice against the Patriots offense on a daily basis.
How the defense looks after all the changes made this offseason:
“We’re coming together. You know we’re just taking it one day at a time but guys are definitely hungry to rebound from last year and guys are ready to go out there and play.”
What he thinks about rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower:
“To be honest with you he has come in with a humble attitude. I love Dont’a. He came in the same way I came in where I walk into a room with Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel and those guys, just trying to learn as much as I could. Not saying that I have the amount of years that those guys had but I’m just trying to pour as much information as I’ve learned over the years into him and he’s just been a sponge. Just soaking it all in and learning as much as he can from coach Pepper Johnson and Matty B. Learn as much as he can and apply it every day. He’s come along very nice.”
Whether they have started focusing on the Titans yet:
“Oh definitely. At the same time we still have a lot of work to do ourselves. We’re focused on the Patriots. Tennessee is a dangerous team, they have (Jake) Locker starting at quarterback and it’s time to start getting ready for these real games.”
On the replacement refs:
“The referees have a job to do and so do we no matter the weather, the commercial breaks or errors on the field, everything, we still have a job to do. I don’t see it being a distraction.”
How tough it is to practice against their own offense on a daily basis:
“On the offensive side of the ball we have so many weapons. You see it every game and you have been out to training camp and things like that. We have the tight ends, who are threats on the outside and on the inside, we have running backs that can catch the ball and that can run and we have a great quarterback. People don’t want to hear about the quarterback but come on it’s Tom Brady. Then we have guys on the outside who can stretch the field so we have a lot of weapons. Hopefully we can get the ball in their hands a lot this year.”