FOXBOROUGH — Ten years ago this week, a rookie thumper for the Patriots named Jerod Mayo introduced himself to the NFL with a flourish in his first preseason game, delivering a hit so hard on Baltimore running back Ray Rice that Rice’s helmet popped off.
On Thursday, there was no such signature, thunderous moment for Ja’Whaun Bentley — the rookie linebacker out of Purdue did deliver a pair of tackles for loss in the preseason opener against the Redskins. But there was a lot of Mayo in his game on Thursday night, right down to Bentley's No. 51.
Asked after the game if he welcomed a Mayo comparison — or if he “didn’t want to go there quite yet” — he waited a beat and flashed a small smile.