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Mayo manning the middle; Thur. PM notes

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On Day 8 of camp, it finally caught up to him.

"I feel tired," rookie LB Jerod Mayoadmitted. "You know, it's tough out here, but at the same time, I'm learning a lot and the [veterans] are doing a lot to help me out."

He hasn't looked tired on the practice field, however. And with only a week to go before his first game in a Patriots uniform, Mayo is anxious to suit up.

"I'm really looking forward to the game. Hopefully I'll be prepared," he said.

It looks like he's getting there. In practices lately, the 6-1, 242-pounder has been taking more and more reps with the first units. But he took a humble approach when asked about how he felt he was developing thus far.

"Just the complexity of the defense and coming from a 4-3 to 3-4 is a little difficult. But Bruschi and those guys are doing a lot to help me out. I'm in my playbook, in the film room, trying to learn as much as I can. I'm trying to get to where they are. It's just part of coming to a new system.

"I'm not even scratching the surface of being able to react right now. I'm still out there thinking. As camp goes on, I'm sure I'll become more comfortable in the scheme and be able to react."

Though he may be reluctant to admit it, Mayo appears to be playing with more and more confidence as camp goes on. He has also demonstrated the speed and hard-hitting style of play that scouts raved about during the pre-draft process, particularly in the pass-rush drills where the linebackers face off against the running backs.

In one such session, Mayo was dominant. He got to the quarterback on every attempt. Thursday, however, he wasn't quite so successful, but he still enjoyed the opportunity because this camp is the first time he's ever taken part in this drill.

"Some days you're on, some days you're not," he observed matter-of-factly. "That's part of pushing through camp and getting better each and every day. Any type of competition, one-on-ones, I enjoy doing."

Mayo and his fellow rookies also had a chance to have a little fun prior to practice Thursday morning. As part of the annual rookie initiation, the first-year guys had to dive for a loose football on a part of the field that had been soaked down on purpose by the team staff. As they did, the vets further wetted the rookies down with a hose. For the rest of practice, the rookies had to endure it in soggy uniforms.

"It was fun, a little bit," Mayo said with a smile. "It was difficult during practice, though. It's part of being a rookie. Coach is just testing our mental toughness. I didn't know I was going to have to dive in the water, so they pretty much sprung it on us. But sometimes things like that happen in the game, so you have to be able to react to it.

"I definitely feel like a rookie," he added.

But with each passing day, he's looking less and less like one.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON NOTES

The late session was a walkthrough that ran from 4 p.m. to around 5:15. Players went without pads, as the focus was more of a mental nature.

There are practices scheduled for this weekend, but only Sunday's will be open to the public because of the Bruce Springsteenconcert at Gillette on Saturday.

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