- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick has already drawn some comparisons between one of his first-round picks from last season, Dont'a Hightower, and his top pick from last month's draft, Jamie Collins.
And just like with Hightower, defensive captain Jerod Mayo will play the role of lead dog in indoctrinating Collins into the Patriots' system.
Mayo has yet to meet Collins -- that will come in another week or two -- but you can bet the sixth-year veteran's message will be taken seriously by the soft-spoken 23-year-old from Southern Mississippi.
"I enjoy watching film, and if you love football, this is the place for you," Mayo said Thursday. "You go to some teams or you hear other players say they're just doing it for a paycheck, but guys here, they genuinely love the game, the coaches love the game, and we're all trying to get better."
But Mayo knows the task of transitioning college players into the NFL falls on more than just him.
"What's the old saying, (that) it takes a community to raise a child? That's how we do it here," Mayo said. "We have a bunch of leaders on this team; not only can they learn from me just because they're on the defensive side of the ball, but you can learn from Tom (Brady), Vince (Wilfork), guys that have been here, that have won championships."
Speaking of being here, Mayo has been doing plenty of that. He lives in the area and has been working out at Gillette Stadium since shortly after the season ended.
"Guys have been here. It's like we didn't miss a beat," he said. "I look at this as my profession. I don't want there to be rules in place (limiting when) your strength coach coach can work with you. I like to work."
Mayo didn't miss a game last season, but battled an elbow injury for much of the campaign. He says he's injury free now.
"No injuries," Mayo said Thursday. "I feel good. I feel very blessed."