By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider
FOXBORO - In all this 4-3, 3-4 talk that's centered around the Patriots' big bodies, one of the more important questions has been, "What happens with Mayo?"
Because, while Albert Haynesworth is a singular force, the only All-Pro on the Patriots defense last year was their middle linebacker, Jerod Mayo. He led the league in tackles by a Ruthian margin.
Will the Patriots fiddle with his role?
After a few moments of questions tapdancing around the topic, Paul Perillo of Patriots Football Weekly cut to the chase and asked if Mayo would become an outside linebacker.
"Yeah, I mean, I don’t really see that," said Belichick. "Maybe the next coach can put him there, I don’t know. But I think he’s going to play off the line of scrimmage and he’s going to play in the tackle box somewhere.
"Whatever front we’re in – over, under, 3-4, 4-3, 2-4 – I mean, he’s going to play in the tackle box (and) off the line of scrimmage; that’s what he’s always done," Belichick added.
On every single defensive snap he plays in 2011, will Mayo be inside the tackle box? Probably not. Some team will scheme a way to get him where he has to play somewhat in space and cover tight ends or running backs in the flat. It won't be like the Patriots are putting up an electric fence there. But the point he's making is that the strength of Jerod Mayo is taking on blockers and finding the football.
Taking his point a little bit further, Belichick showed his appreciation for Mayo, saying, "He’s one of the best I’ve coached, one of the best in the league at (playing inside). I can’t imagine him playing anywhere else, at this point."