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"I'm really trying to do the same thing that Tedy did for me as far as taking them under my wing and showing them the ropes," said Mayo, whose team-leading 139 tackles were 54 more than runner-up Vince Wilfork.
Without Vrabel and Bruschi, the Patriots have shown indications that they'll mix more 4-3 defensive alignments in with their usual 3-4. The addition of pass rusher Derrick Burgess, a defensive end at Oakland who also may play outside linebacker, could help compensate for Seymour's absence.
"We've been a multiple defense since I've been here. We'll continue to be that," Belichick said. "We'll try to put the players out there that we feel are the best for the situation or the game plan or the team we're playing."
The secondary got veteran help for young safeties James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather with the signing of free agents Leigh Bodden from Detroit and Shawn Springs from Washington.
The Miami Dolphins won the AFC East last year on a tiebreaker with the Patriots. The New York Jets added coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Buffalo Bills appear to be the division's weakest team with an inexperienced offensive line and running back Marshawn Lynch suspended by the NFL for the first three games.
And the Patriots have Brady back.
In 2007, he was the NFL's MVP when he threw a league-record 50 touchdowns with eight interceptions. But the chance for a 19-0 season ended with a Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.
And the next season ended much too soon.
"Nobody likes to sit out like I did last year and, really, I think the way our season ended last year, no one really enjoyed the offseason very much either," Brady said. "So everybody's excited to get back and anxious for the season."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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