Wilfork enters 9th season with more new teammates
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP)
is getting used to some new playing partners along the
defensive line - again.
Entering his ninth season, the Patriots slimmed-down lineman is working
with veteran newcomers Jonathan
Fanene and Trevor
Scott and rookies
a first-round pick, and Jake
Bequette, taken in the
Gone from last season are Andre
''I can play with anybody,'' Wilfork said Wednesday. ''That's just the
trust I have in those guys to learn what they have to learn.''
After playing 122 regular-season games, and missing just six, since
being drafted by New England in the first round in 2004, he can help
them do that.
''If they have questions, they can always ask me because I've been
around this for a little bit,'' he said. ''Not saying I know
everything, but I've been around for a while and kind of know what to
expect. So, I think we all do a real good job of helping one another.''
Wilfork received plenty of help as a rookie when he started six games
at nose tackle. Then Richard
Warren and Keith
the primary starters in the three-man line.
was a presence in the postseason at Gillette
Since then, other starters along the defensive line included Jarvis
Green, Ron Brace,
Tully Banta-Cain, Brandon
Landon Cohen, Kyle Love,
Myron Pryor, Eric Moore and Rob Ninkovich.
Some started just one game. Others were longtime teammates of Wilfork.
''You get attached to some people,'' Wilfork said. ''I remember coming
in, I had Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, Ty Warren next to me, and
(Mike) Vrabel and Willie
McGinest. Over the years things changed.
''I've been around long enough to understand how this thing goes, and
if they need my help, I'm always here. But it's tough because you get
attached to people and you get a chance to know people off the field,
not just on the field - the families and stuff like that. So, for
people to move on, it can be heartbreaking at times. But, at the same
time, change always happens at this level. So, you have to get used to
it real quick.''
Wilfork has lost weight from his usual 330-pound frame.
''I took my offseason real serious,'' he said. ''I do each year. It's
just grinding and a lot of hard work. They say the older you get, the
harder it is, so I just wanted to be sure I was in tip-top shape coming
Wilfork was named to his fourth Pro Bowl last season. But he's not
looking back, especially since the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the
New York Giants
21-17 on a last-minute touchdown. It was the final
collapse of a defense that allowed the second most yards in the NFL
during the regular season.
''You can't pay attention to last year,'' Wilfork said. ''You've got to
move forward. Each year is different.''
and Anderson harrassed opposing QBs, but both are gone now.
The Patriots used six of their seven draft picks on defensive players,
including linebacker Dont'a
Hightower in the first round, and added
veterans Steve Gregory
and Will Allen
to the secondary, Bobby
at linebacker and Scott and Fanene to the line.
''Hopefully, these guys can help this ballclub,'' Wilfork said. ''I'm
excited to play with these guys.''
The Patriots need to improve their pass rush. It doesn't help that the
players who led them with 10 sacks each last year are gone. Anderson
agreed with the Buffalo
Bills, and Carter is unsigned.
New England also has a new defensive line coach, Patrick Graham. He
handled the linebackers last season.
''Patrick's pretty smart,'' Wilfork said. ''When we have meetings if he
has a question, he can always ask and it's been working well for us.
... You have changes, we have to adapt to those changes. I think we're
doing a great job in the defensive line room because we all talk the
same thing, the same way.''
The Patriots used both a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive alignment last season.
So, a defensive end in college may find himself playing some outside
linebacker in the pros. Whatever works for New England.
''It's a big transition for those players if they're in coverage,''
coach Bill Belichick said. ''That's something that they're not used to
But, if any of the youngsters need help, Wilfork is ready to provide
it. He's been there, done that.
''We do a real good job of helping one another,'' he said. ''Guys who
have been in the room for a couple of years are forced to be more and
more of a leader.''
NOTES: The Patriots said 22,633 spectators attended the team's only
evening training camp practice on Wednesday. It was held inside
Gillette Stadium, rather than on the adjacent practice fields, in front
of season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents. ... New England
opens its preseason schedule next Thursday at home against the New Orleans Saints.
... The Patriots went 2-2 last preseason.
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