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Thursday, April 14, 2011
Mayo: 'Belichick will still be in the room'

By Mike Reiss

One of the more significant changes to the Patriots' coaching staff this offseason was on the defensive side, with Matt Patricia moving from linebackers coach to safeties coach, and Patrick Graham earning a promotion from coaching assistant to linebackers coach.

Graham, a former defensive lineman at Yale (Class of 2001), has earned praise from head coach Bill Belichick. In March, Belichick said: "I think he’s really a good young coach. I’m glad he’s on our staff. He’s done a terrific job for us.”

With promising young linebackers on the Patriots' roster such as Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes and others, Graham's work in developing them figures to be important to the team's long-term success. It seems like a lot to put on a young coach.

Yet in catching up with linebacker and captain Jerod Mayo this week, he thinks it will be a smooth transition because Graham "kind of helped out with the linebackers last year" and "I think we have guys in the linebacker room willing to work."

Mayo also doesn't expect Graham to be alone in the role.

"You know that Coach Belichick will still be in the [linebacker] room,” he said.

For the second straight year, Belichick is expected to lead the defense, which doesn't have an official coordinator. It looks like a significant amount of his defensive workload will be focused on the linebackers.