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Vince Wilfork: Pats D has to ‘hit the ground running’

09.06.12 at 7:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The man who has seen more on the Patriots defense than anyone else knows the potential of this group.

Vince Wilfork sees two first-round picks added in April’s draft. He watched as Bill Belichick used his first six picks on defense. He’s seen the Patriots draft defense in 12 of their last 20 picks going back to 2010.

Now, with names like Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower added to Brandon Spikes, Ras-I Dowling, Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, Kyle Love and Patrick Chung, Wilfork knows it’s time for the Patriots D to step up. And stepping up begins Sunday in Nashville against the Titans.

But at 30 years of age, Wilfork stands with Tom Brady as the only Patriots that have Super Bowl rings in their jewelry collection. Wilfork said Thursday he’s not feeling his age heading into the opener – and that’s a good thing.

‘€œI don’€™t feel it,’€ said Wilfork, who turns 31 on Nov. 4. ‘€œThat’€™s something I never look at. Every year I know it’€™s a year under your belt. But when I’€™m playing I don’€™t feel like I’€™m 30 or nine years in. I’€™m like everyone else; I come to work, work hard, and expect the same out of my teammates. As long as you keep that mind frame, you can play as long as you want to play.

‘€œIt’€™s very excited to get going. We’€™re on the road and it’€™s going to be a tough game for us. But we can’€™t look back now. We have to hit the ground running and I’€™m looking forward to it.’€

Obviously, the biggest challenge will be containing the refreshed and rejuvenated Chris Johnson, a one-time perennial Pro Bowl running back with explosive power and speed.

‘€œYou have to have the passion for it. I love it, and I love playing with my teammates; love playing for this organization,’€ he said. ‘€œWhatever I can do to make this team better, that’€™s what I’€™m going to do.’€

As is the case with Brady, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, Wilfork didn’t have a large number of game snaps in the preseason, playing in just two games. He did have four tackles and an assist in an active game against Tampa Bay on Aug. 24.

‘€œEverybody is in the same predicament as us,” Wilfork said. “I’€™m pretty sure things that we’€™re preparing for, we’€™ll have to make adjustments on Sunday. We prepare well. We can only prepare from what we’€™ve seen in the past and you go from there. As long as everyone is on the same page I think we’€™ll be ok.

‘€œYou always have to have fun. As long as you know what you’€™re doing, you can have fun. It’€™s not fun when you don’€™t know what you’€™re doing. Hopefully everyone is on the same page and we can start this thing off right.’€

Read More: chandler jones, Chris Johnson, Dont'a Hightower, Jerod Mayo
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