By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- First-round draft pick Jarod Mayo arrived in Foxborough to sign his contract right as the New England Patriots were starting training camp, leaving the veterans looking to make up for his absence with an extra dose of light-hearted hazing on Friday.
"I really wanted to be out there with the guys," Mayo said. "It definitely was frustrating."
A linebacker who was the 10th overall pick in the draft, Mayo signed a five-year contract on Thursday after flying to Foxborough early in the morning. The Patriots' first practice of training camp started at 8:30 a.m., which meant no Mayo.
Mayo did partake in the evening practice of the opening two-a-day, and he was back on the field Friday. As a rookie joining a veteran linebacking corps, Mayo heard was given the traditional duty of carting the helmet and pads of teammates Tedy Bruschi and Adalius Thomas onto the practice field.
He knew better than to complain.
"I know the Patriot way," he said.
He wasn't the only one exposed to the mild hazing.
Quarterback Kevin O'Connell, a third-round pick, toted the helmet and pads of reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady. Receiver Robert Ortiz, an undrafted free agent, did the duty for Randy Moss.
Mayo was in bed in Hampton, Va., after midnight Thursday morning when he got the call telling him that his contract was almost done and he could head to camp. He got up at 5 a.m. to catch a plane that got him to New England at 8, and then it was straight to the stadium.
"It's been a long couple of days," he said.
The Patriots are hoping that Mayo can begin the rejuvenation of an aging linebacking corps that has helped the team win three NFL titles this decade. Bruschi is 35, Mike Vrabel will be 33 when the season starts and Thomas will be 31. Junior Seau, who would be 40 at the next Super Bowl, may retire, and Rosevelt Colvin went to Houston as a free agent.
With Mayo and fellow draft pick Shawn Crable in camp, the Patriots could get a lot younger in the middle of their defense. But first, Mayo said, he wants to learn what he can from the veterans around him.
"Bruschi and those guys are going to be helping me out," he said. "They played for a long time and hopefully they can take me under their wing."
The first lesson already began, with Thomas handing out the team's traditional training camp T-shirt on Thursday.
This year's model is an upgrade and redesign of last year's that read "Humble Pie." The motto was an important one for the three-time Super Bowl champions, but it seemed to serve them well as they won their first 18 games before losing 17-14 in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
This year's shirt -- there's a pink model to raise money for breast cancer -- comes with a recipe on the back listing the main ingredient of "Humbleness" and the cooking instructions: "Bake for a lifetime."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Mayo was in good condition and didn't appear to be lagging behind his teammates because of the one missed practice. Many of the terms and plays are given to rookies and free agents in spring minicamps, which Mayo attended.
"We worked with him in the spring and I think he learned a lot there. He has a long way to go," Belichick said. "I know he is at a position where that will be important and I am glad we got him and had a chance to work with him yesterday. He really didn't miss that much and he did benefit from all the spring camps. I think he can get into the mainstream with everybody by the end of today and we will see what he can do."
The Patriots practiced in their field house twice on Thursday because of thunderstorms, so Friday's solo session was the first with fans watching and cheering them on. A sound test for this weekend's New England Country Music Festival could be heard coming from the adjacent stadium, but not loud enough to drown out the sometimes profane instructions offered by the coaching staff.
"We are looking forward to getting outside today and being in front of our fans and have an outdoor practice," Belichick said, adding that it would "feel more like a training camp day."