Jerod Mayo certainly made a big splash upon entering the NFL player pool last season. Selected by the New England Patriots first round pick (10th overall,) Mayo’s expectations were to step in immediately and add speed to an aging linebackers unit.
He did just that.
As injuries plagued the New England defense in 2008, including a season-ending one to linebacker Adalius Thomas, young players like Mayo and Brandon Meriweather were called on to step up.
Mayo answered the call. With 128 tackles and a forced fumble, Mayo was crowned AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
After a spectacular first season from the former Tennessee Volunteer, here are a few questions I would like answered:
1) How much did having veterans like Teddy Bruschi in the locker room and in the huddle help you adjust to the NFL?
2) How did your duties change as injuries hit the defensive unit in 2008? Did you have to take on more than you had expected after training camp and pre-season?
3) With Mike Vrabel headed to Kansas City, is there more pressure on you to fill that void, or do you see it as a vote of confidence by the coaching staff that you can repeat last year’s performance?
4) Obviously every team’s goal is to reach the playoffs and make a run at the Super Bowl; what are the realistic expectations for the 2009 Patriots, keeping in mind the number of new faces on the team and your leader coming off of major knee surgery?
5) You were a 1,000 yard rusher in high school; could you hack it in the NFL as a tailback? Would you like to be the next Patriots defender used in goal line offensive sets like we’ve seen from Vrabel and Richard Seymour.
6) Any fear of the “sophomore slump?” How will you build on last season and avoid the weak second season so many athletes face?
7) You grew up in Virginia and played college ball at Tennessee; what are your thoughts on New England after one year in the northeast?
8) What players did you idolize growing up, and who do you try and emulate on the field?
9) The Pats’ defensive line is consistently one of the best in the league. How much do the big guys up front contribute to the success of the linebacker's unit?
10) After one year in the league to develop rivalries, what game have you circled on the 2009 schedule as the one you’re looking forward to most?
12) Give me your stat line for Week One 2009, Monday night against Buffalo.