The New England Patriots seem to be content with their current linebacker group, even without many of the household names of the last decade. The latest release of veteran LB Terez Hall and not re-signing 32-year-old Dont’a Hightower show which direction Bill Belichick’s defense may be heading in.
This offseason the Patriots traded pass rusher specialist Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a smaller, faster linebacker in the middle, Mack Wilson, who enters his age 24 season in 2022.
The coaching staff, particularly New England’s inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, seems to be on board with allowing the young LBs to play and develop despite the growing pains.
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Mayo Excited for the Future
The former Patriots All-Pro weighed in on the upcoming new-look linebacker corps, specifically the team’s youth movement at the position.
On episode 33 of the Patriots’ Pats from the Past podcast, Mayo discussed in great detail his mindset going into the 2022 season with the young group he’s looking to help develop.
“Even right now, not having some of those older guys in the room is beneficial for the younger guys because the older guys would be bored out of their minds with some of the things we’re talking about,” Mayo said. “At the same time, it’s forcing the younger guys to really take that step forward, and really grow and develop without being hindered by any other guy’s experience.”
According to Mayo, the most exciting part is what both he and the fans don’t yet know.
“Thinking about the guys we have in the room, we have some guys that can rush and cover. And so, we have some guys that Pats Nation, they haven’t even heard of probably. That, to me, is the exciting part. That is the exciting part — the unknown. And we’re going to go into it as a unit, we’re gonna go into it together.”
Matt Groh Is Optimistic Heading Into 2022 Season
Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh also speaks very highly of the talent remaining in the linebacker room. He’s excited about the possibilities this can bring and the versatility of the defense. Many of these guys played in some form or fashion in the past, however, this season their roles will be expanded.
“Really excited about that group,” Groh told reporters during his April 30 post-draft press conference. “Excited to see Cam McGrone was able to get on the field a little bit last year, excited to see him be in an expanded role. He’s kind of an additional draft pick. You can put him along there with the three guys that we’ve been able to add here today along with some of the other guys from last year.
“That all kind of counts to getting younger, getting faster, being a tough team. So being able to add Mack Wilson — I know a lot was going on in free agency, and it was a trade and not a signing — but I think that was a crucial part of adding some depth to the linebacking corps along with being able to get Ja’Whaun Bentley back. Really excited to have him and his experience, as well.”