When Jerod Mayowent down just minutes into the season opener against Buffalo Monday night, Patriots fans held their collective breath.
Most fans, however, don't know Mayo personally. So, imagine how Gary Guytonfelt. The two have been best of friends since meeting at last year's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Now, as teammates who play the same position, they spend the vast majority of their days together. So, the bond has become particularly tight.
"You see Jerod lying down, it's like … that's my boy, that's my teammate, that's my friend … oh, man," Guyton told reporters Friday.
"But," he added, "you just have to get ready and go."
Which is exactly what Guyton did. He not only filled in at Mayo's inside position, he also assumed the responsibilities of the green dot, meaning his helmet was equipped with the communication device for coaches to relay information to him, allowing Guyton to call the defensive signals on the field.
"It worked out fine," he said. "I had no problem with it."
"I think Gary showed that he can do it," asserted outside 'backer Tully Banta-Cain, who started the Bills game. "And the coaches, by his being out there, show that they rely on him and trust him to do the job. We're glad to have him."
Guyton insisted he had no time to think about the added responsibilities once Mayo left the game. He just reacted to the situation and said he felt "pretty satisfied" with his performance. He'll likely have the chance to continue in Mayo's role this weekend against the Jets.
"I'm definitely excited to have this opportunity to play football," he continued. "Every Sunday I'm always excited."
Nevertheless, he still feels for his buddy who'll be out indefinitely with a right knee injury. He divulged that he's talked to Mayo since the injury.
"We always support each other. He and I are close. He knows I support him. I told him I'm here for him."
A reporter then asked how Mayo is feeling. Guyton shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and gave a playful smile.
"I don't know," he replied. "You'll have to ask him that."
Banta-Cain on the Mark
In the first game of his second stint with the Patriots, Banta-Cain made it a memorable one, with a pair of sacks versus the Bills. This weekend, he faces Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. You might expect the pass-rush artist to be salivating at the prospect of facing an inexperienced QB.
"Of course, my job is to try to get after him the best I can," Banta-Cain acknowledged. "But I'm licking my chops no matter who it is. We can't get overconfident thinking he's a rookie. We have to go into the game like he isn't a young quarterback."
After just one regular season game, Banta-Cain came away impressed with what Sanchez did against the Houston Texans last Sunday.
"I think he's a poised player and he shows a lot of … what's the word … savvy. He shows a lot of savvy back there."
And that's rare for a rookie quarterback, as Banta-Cain pointed out.
"It really just depends on the player. Some guys come into the league and can take on any challenge. Others are like a deer in the headlights. Obviously, you lean on the side of, 'Hey, he's a rookie, maybe he won't be ready.' I don't think that's the case with this kid."
Friday locker room/practice notes
For the third time this week, Mayo was the only player absent from practice. The rest of the team was out on the field, in shells and sweat pants, under bright, blue skies and early autumn-like temperatures in Foxborough.
As the team normally does on Fridays, it started practice by working on the kickoff return team. After the first kick, however (a muffed return), it quickly became apparent to head coachBill Belichickthat his team needed a pep talk. He blew his whistle and hollered for the entire team to gather at midfield, where he appeared to give them a lecture. About a minute later, practice resumed.
The locker room was a veritable beehive of activity after practice, as the players and staff were busy packing their equipment for the trip to New Jersey.