Jerod Mayo's transition from Pro Bowl linebacker to coach seems to be starting off on the right foot. The former first round draft pick that spent his entire NFL career playing for the Patriots was often viewed as a coach on the field during his playing career, earning the nickname "Mini Bill" from some of his teammates. Viewing practice thus far in training camp, it's clear Mayo feels just at home coaching as he did playing.
"He's really the same. He was a coach on the field and even more now," Dont'a Hightower said. "It's great to have him leading the meetings and being able to talk"
Hightower's perspective on Mayo is certainly incisive considering he was teammates with Mayo. His familiarity with all facets of the position and playing for this organization has certainly earned Mayo the respect of his players.
"You know, some coaches, it's easy for them to say 'X's and O's' but they don't really understand what you actually see," Hightower said. "With him, he has a different perspective and he's able to give us a lot of knowledge."
Even in the short time that defensive end Michael Bennett has been in Foxborough, he has taken note of Mayo's leadership.
"I told Jerod that I'm not listening to him because we're the same age," Bennett joked. "But it's good because we came out at the same time in the draft and I remember him playing. We used to work the Ty Warren camp together, and now he's the coach. It's nice to have a young guy who knows the plays, who lived the defense, and he just knows."
Still, not all former players make good coaches. When it comes to Mayo, there's no doubt his complete understanding of the game shows in his confidence on the sideline. It's hard to overlook his leadership on the field as, already in this young training camp, he's one of the more vocal coaches on the field.
"You trust the way that he plays because he played in the game and you know he knows the call," Bennett said. "He was the leader before, so to have him in the huddle every single time, you can't let him down because he's been in the game."