New England Patriots inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, the team’s leading tackler, is likely to miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Mayo is an every-down player in the Patriots’ vast defensive scheme. He participated in nearly 96 percent of New England defensive plays last season.
Brandon Spikes, a fellow Florida product, and rookie Jamie Collins could become the starters in the 4-3 defense with Spikes in the middle. Dont’a Hightower would remain at strong-side linebacker.
Yahoo Sports first reported Mayo’s injury, which required surgery Tuesday.
He was injured in the second half of the Patriots’ 30-27 victory over New Orleans on Sunday.
Although he did have surgery, according to the report, it has not been determined whether he will be able to return this season. Torn pectoral muscles often are season-ending injuries. Chicago Bears linebacker D.J. Williams had his season ended because of a similar injury. Pectoral muscles cover the front of the rib cage.
This season, Mayo has 55 total tackles, including 35 solo tackles.
New England also lost wide receiver Danny Amendola and guard Dan Connolly to head injuries on Sunday.
Mayo would join Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork on injured reserve if the Patriots determine he is unable to play again this season.
NFL NOTEBOOK: Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return with a fractured fibula suffered Sunday. He will be eligible to practice after six weeks and can return to game action against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 15.
The Packers also signed tight end Jake Stoneburner and wide receiver Myles White off their practice squad and placed offensive lineman Greg Van Roten on injured reserve. Linebacker Victor Aiyewa was added to the practice squad.
Cobb was hit directly on his right knee in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens by rookie safety Matt Elam. Cobb leads the Packers with 29 receptions and has 378 yards and two touchdowns.
James Jones was also injured, but his left knee injury isn’t serious, coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. Jones is likely to be listed as questionable this week.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers confronted Elam after the play. Rodgers later said he thought Elam could have avoided taking a shot on Cobb’s knee.
“I think he could have hit him in the proper hitting zone and that’s what I told him,” Rodgers said. “(Ravens safety James Ihedigbo) came over and made actually a very knowledgeable point — which I appreciated a little intelligent banter back and forth — about some of the issues defensive players have to deal with with the target area. I totally understand that and get that. I just felt like, from my vantage point, (Elam) had plenty of time to not take out a guy’s legs in that situation. I think he could have hit in the proper hitting zone, and that’s what I told him.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Elam’s second-quarter tackle was wrongfully criticized by Rodgers.
“To say that it could have been more artistically palatable, is pretty hard for me to understand,” Harbaugh said Monday. “That’s a fast route. They ran a pretty good route there. Aaron made a good, quick throw in there and Matt is doing the best he can to try to stop that play. So I have no idea what he’s talking about.”
Stoneburner was signed as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State, where he played wide receiver and tight end, catching 53 career passes.
White was also an undrafted free agent this year after playing in 22 games with eight starts in two seasons at Louisiana Tech.
Aiyewa is a first-year player out of the University of Washington who originally signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie in 2011.