The linebacker missed 10 games last year after tearing his pectoral muscle in Week 6. The 28-year-old was cleared for training camp and to hear coach Bill Belichick tell it, Mayo's return will be the key for the Patriots.
"I think he means a lot to our team," Belichick said Friday. "He's really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player. Not that there aren't other players that are instrumental in that, but I think he touches pretty much everybody."
The coach focused not only on Mayo's ability on the field but in the locker room, calling the seven-year pro a "glue-chemistry guy."
"Not just the defensive players, but all of the guys," Belichick said of Mayo's leadership. "Not just the older guys, but the younger guys. When he was captain in his second year, he had a relationship with other guys. ...He's as well respected as any player in the locker room. One of the best overall team leaders, players."
With the diversity Belichick likes to employ on defense, getting Mayo's leadership and playmaking back on the field will be a boon for a unit that is better than it's been since Tom Brady was last seen hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.