Mayo a natural leader for Pats D

AFC East blogger James Walker spotlights Patriots defensive leader Jerod Mayo in a piece that calls him part drill sergeant, part linebacker and traces his military upbringing.

INDIANAPOLIS — Jerod Mayo is part drill sergeant, part linebacker. And that combination has equaled one of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s most reliable players.

"He sets the pace," Belichick said of Mayo this week. "He will be the first one there and the last one to leave. He will know the most about all of our calls and the adjustments on defense, as Tom [Brady] does on offense. The game runs through him."

Mayo, mentally and physically, has been the steady force of New England's defense. He recorded 95 tackles, two interceptions and a sack for the Patriots this season in 14 games. Mayo also added 17 tackles in two playoff games.

But most importantly, Mayo has provided much-needed leadership and brought order to New England's defense.

Growing up in a military household has helped Mayo on the football field. His grandfather was a chief master sergeant in the Air Force and taught Mayo a lot about work ethic and discipline at an early age.

"My grandfather used to wake us up at 6 o'clock in the morning while all my friends were sleeping and we used to go paint some houses," Mayo recalled. "He always wanted to keep us out of trouble. He bought me a weight set when I was in fifth grade."

Mayo's upbringing has made him into one of the hardest-working players on the team. In just four seasons, the former first-round pick has taken over New England's leadership role on defense.

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