By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Bill Belichick said it himself: When it came to pass rushers, the 2011 NFL draft class carried the mother lode. Yet the Patriots - whose main defensive shortcoming is its inability to make opposing quarterbacks pay attention to their pass rush - passed on all the blue-chip guys. Unless they make a big strike in free agency, the group of Jermaine Cunningham, Tully Banta-Cain, Eric Moore and Rob Ninkovich will be their edge rushers. Linebacker Jerod Mayo says that decision speaks volumes. Tuesday, I asked Mayo on WEEI's Big Show what it must mean in relation to Cunningham that the Patriots opted to stand pat. "What does it say about the group of guys that rush the passer?" Mayo repeated."It says a lot.
"I always like when Coach Belichick makes decisions like that and goes against what the media thinks we should do, because it shows the trust he has in us. The same thing that happened with the Colts game (in 2009 when Belichick tried for a first down on fourth-and-two deep in his own territory). People were like 'Hey, why didn't Bill punt the ball?' It just shows the trust he has in his system and his players. I take it as a compliment."Belichick's been free with his compliments of Mayo, a player he clearly considers one of the best leaders on this team and an extension of himself on the field. Those relatively little nuggets of praise or the acts that show faith go a long way, Mayo said. "It causes you not to want to fail and not to want to fail Coach Belichick and the compliments he gave you. You want to go out there and live up to his expectations. He set high expectations for us and you want to go out there and work hard to meet them."
By Tom E. Curran