FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Linebacker Jerod Mayo, considered by many to be the heart of the New England Patriots defense, will miss the rest of the season, including playoffs, after he was placed on injured reserve Wednesday morning.
Mayo suffered a torn right pectoral muscle while making a tackle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 30-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints. According to several media reports, he had surgery on Tuesday.
Coach Bill Belichick said the team would have “to move on’’ in his Wednesday morning press conference.
Mayo was leading the team with 66 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. He has been New England’s leading tackler in each of the previous five seasons and is considered the team’s best pass defender at linebacker.
Mayo’s injury is the latest to a Patriots defense that is ranked 14th in total defense (347.7 yards per game) and fourth in points allowed (16.2).
Already, tackle Vince Wilfork was placed on the IR with an Achilles tendon tear and tackle Tommy Kelly missed last week’s game with a knee injury.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, considered one of the best in the league this season, suffered a hip injury Sunday and his status is still uncertain. Talib was one of five players not spotted at Wednesday’s practice during the time alloted the media to watch.
The others were Kelly, wide receiver Danny Amendola, guard Dan Connolly and running back Leon Washington. Both Amendola and Connolly suffered head injuries in Sunday’s victory.
Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins will likely inherit a larger role in the defense as will second-year linebacker Dont’a Hightower.