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Bill Belichick is trusting the defense in the hands of a first-year NFL assistant

Bill Belichick has a unique knack for developing and identifying coaching talent that has served him and the Patriots very well over his career.

This season, the Patriots are in the unique situation of having to replace a number of key coaches as they lost defensive play caller and linebackers coach Brian Flores to the head coaching opportunity with the Dolphins, and also needed to replace Chad O'Shea (WRs), Jerry Schuplinski (assistant QBs), Josh Boyer (CBs), and Brendan Daly (DL), as well as Greg Schiano - who originally joined the staff as the unofficial defensive coordinator before abruptly resigning at the end of March. There was even some talk there for a bit of former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema taking over the defense.

If current practices are any indication, the latest example of Belichick's genius may be unfolding right in front of us. Albert Breer and the latest installment of MMQB notes that first-year NFL coach, and former Patriots linebacker, Jerod Mayo appears to be running the Patriots defense at practices so far - complete with the defensive play call sheet in hand and walkie-talkie to communicate with a player on the field.

Mayo played his entire eight-year NFL career under Belichick with the Patriots, and enjoyed a pretty outstanding career with the organization, including being a captain for seven of his eight seasons in Foxboro before stepping away from the game relatively suddenly.

While all indications have been that Belichick will be calling the shots come game day, it's always interesting to see how Belichick prepares young coaches that he sees something special in, and Mayo seems to fit that mold early on as a rookie coach.

Head here to read the full article, including why many players are weighing in with some even calling Mayo one of the best natural leaders they've ever been around.