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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee) out for season

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Bill Belichick called New England's stirring win in Buffalo on Sunday "bittersweet" because of the injury to linebacker Jerod Mayo. That said a lot about Belichick's respect for Mayo, and it was an ominous sign for the Mayo's health.

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On Monday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the linebacker is indeed out for the season with a knee injury. It was a devastating day for the Patriots; running back Stevan Ridley is also out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. As talented as Ridley is, Mayo's injury stings more.

Belichick was crestfallen for Mayo because he's exactly what Belichick looks for in a linebacker. Mayo leads the team behind the scenes, calls the plays on the field and will be difficult to replace. The Patriots are thin at the position after losing Brandon Spikes in the offseason. Dont'a Hightower is currently hurt but could play more snaps at inside linebacker. The team gave a lot of snaps to undrafted rookie Deontae Skinner on Sunday in Buffalo. They could also use safety Tavon Wilson at times in more of a linebacker role on passing downs.

"Everyone has to step up if Mayo can't go," safety Devin McCourty said, via ESPNBoston.com. "That just is what it is. One guy is not going to do what Mayo's done the last seven years."

The Patriots had to replace Mayo last year in October when he tore his pectoral muscle and was lost for the season, so they have some practice. But it's a big loss for a defense that ranks eleventh in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed. The NFL season is largely about adjustments, and the Patriots have to make a few big ones this week.

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