Duron Harmon confirms Jerod Mayo is calling the defensive plays

Duron Harmon confirms Jerod Mayo is calling the defensive plays

After last year's defensive coordinator Brian Flores departed for the head coaching gig in Miami, it was unclear who would call the plays with Bill Belichick as the de facto defensive coordinator. Ahead of the preseason, many Patriots fans eagerly awaited the moment when the camera panned to New England's sideline to display which defensive coach wore the headset.

Belichick had largely kept quiet — like he does with most topics — about who will assume defensive coordinator responsibilities, but NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry has reported throughout the summer that linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is a likely candidate. After all, he did wear the headset in the first preseason game against the Lions. 

On a radio hit on Monday on WEEI, safety Duron Harmon confirmed what many have speculated to be true: Mayo is calling the shots. 

"Jerod (Mayo), obviously, he's been calling plays for us," Harmon said. "He's working at making sure he can get the play in on time. He's been doing a good job for us."

Mayo played eight seasons in New Englnad before retiring in 2015. Harmon noted that Mayo's playing experience has helped him relate to players and gives him an extra ounce of credibility. 

Mayo joined the Patriots' staff this summer as a linebackers coach. With Mayo calling defensive plays and Josh McDaniels leading the offense once again, Belichick's coaching staff is falling into place as the season approaches. 

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Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami. He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel, and Myles Bryant.