October 16, 2014
New England Patriots middle linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) is helped off the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Mike Groll

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The New England Patriots placed leading tackler Jerod Mayo and top rusher Stevan Ridley on injured reserve on Thursday, ending their seasons.

The moves were expected after both players damaged their right knees in last Sunday's 37-22 victory at Buffalo.

New England signed running back Jonas Gray and offensive lineman Chris Barker from the practice squad to the 53-man roster before Thursday night's game against the New York Jets.

Mayo is a captain and primary defensive signal caller at middle linebacker. He had five consecutive seasons with more than 100 tackles through 2012. He had 66 tackles last season before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in his sixth game. He has 52 tackles in six games this season, his seventh since the Patriots drafted him in the first round.

''It hurts to lose a guy who's given so much to this team for so long,'' outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower said this week.

But he said it would ''help a lot'' that he and outside linebacker Jamie Collins, a rookie last season, have experience playing without Mayo.

''I definitely feel like I needed that, not only me but it helped Jamie out as well,'' Hightower said. ''So we have some familiarity with that.''

Ridley has rushed for 340 yards and two touchdowns this season, his fourth since the Patriots drafted him in the third round, and has avoided past fumbling problems. He lost two fumbles in 2012, when he ran for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns, and four in 2013, when he carried for 773 yards and seven touchdowns.

He has two games this season with more than 100 yards rushing - 101 in a 30-7 win at Minnesota in Week 2 and 113 in a 43-17 victory over Cincinnati in Week 5. His 21 touchdowns on the ground since 2012 lead the AFC.

Now he and Mayo are done for the season.

''It's hard to replace,'' quarterback Tom Brady said Tuesday. ''There are no swaps. There's no, `Let's move this guy into that role,' because guys like Jerod and Stevan play such a big role. I think the rest of the group has to pick it up and understand the things that they brought to the table that we need to continue to bring. Everyone just has to do more.''

Gray has been practicing with the Patriots this season after signing as a free agent last Jan. 8. Undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2012, he signed with Miami and went on the physically unable to perform list at the end of training camp. The Dolphins released him before the regular season last year and he spent it on Baltimore's practice squad.

Barker played in four games for the Patriots last season, mostly on special teams, after being claimed on waivers from Miami last Sept. 1.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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