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Bill Belichick doesn’t have ‘a lot of new information’ on reported season-ending Achilles injury to Vince Wilfork

09.30.13 at 11:38 am ET
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Vince Wilfork reportedly leaves with a torn right Achilles Sunday night. (AP)

Vince Wilfork leaves with what’s reported to be a torn right Achilles Sunday night. (AP)

Upon their arrival back in Foxboro around 5 a.m., the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick, who gave the players Monday off, immediately turned their thoughts to replacing one of their anchors for the last decade on defense.

Shalise Manza-Young of The Boston Globe was the first to report Monday morning that Vince Wilfork sustained a season-ending torn right Achilles in the first quarter of Sunday night’s 30-23 win over the Falcons in Atlanta.

During his conference call with reporters Monday morning, Belichick would not confirm the injury but did acknowledge that the team will have to closely monitor the situation to determine the next move.

“I don’t really have a lot of new information on that,” Belichick said. “We’ll just have to see how things turn out here. But he’s an outstanding player, we all know that. He gives us great leadership and he’s a strong contributor on and off the field and in the locker room and everything else. We’ll just have to see how things come together for him and also what, obviously if he’s not there, it will mean everybody having to pull a little bit more weight on their end.”

Belichick was asked directly if he can confirm the Achilles injury.

“I really don’t have a lot of information here,” Belichick replied. “Like I said, we got back late last night. I know they’re going to look at him and do some tests this morning and that’s really about all I know. I haven’t heard any more about that. I’m not sure exactly what the status of that is. That’s pretty common after every game. We get back here late off the road and then guys come in and they, whatever the injury is, they either get it treated or sometimes get it looked at in a little more detail with a test or whatever, whatever the case might be, whatever our medical department decides they need and then we go from there.”

Belichick said he did not know if Wilfork is likely to miss the rest of the season.

“I really don’t know much right now,” Belichick added. “Really, I don’t know much. I haven’t had a chance to meet with our medical people and I don’t even know what they’ve done yet this morning. I’m just trying to get caught up on what I need to do and then it will all come together here at some point during the day.”

Belichick realizes that if they do have to replace Wilfork and place him on season-ending injured reserve, there will be a big void to fill in the middle of the defensive line.

WEEI.com’s Chris Price breaks down the immediate options available to the Patriots.

Here is the rest of Belichick’s conference call from Monday morning:

BB: It was a short night for us last night; we got back in real early this morning. We’re just trying to grind through the Atlanta film and also the Cincinnati-Cleveland game. We have to turn the page on this one and get on to the Bengals. Certainly a good win for our team in Atlanta against a good football team in a high energy environment. It’s good to go down there and win. There are some things we did well in the game, there are certainly other things that we need to improve on but that’s the way it is for every team and it’ really the way it is this time of year anyway. We’ll continue to try to plug away on that and just do a better job on what we need to do but at the same time, start getting ready for Cincinnati here. We have a real quick turnaround on them. It will be a big challenge this week. The Bengals are a good football team: great record last year, they have a lot of skill players in all three phases of the game, they’re well coached; they have a good, solid organization. We know that it will be tough out there this week.

Q: What does it mean to be 4-0 right now?

BB: It’s nice but we have a lot of football left to play. It’s a long season. I think the most important thing for our team is to continue to improve. We’re not where we need to be as a team. We’re making progress. We’re certainly doing some things better than we did four games ago or a month ago but still a lot of things we can improve on, a lot of areas that we need to work in. That’s the next step.

Q: What went into the decision to give the players the day off today?

BB: Just felt like it was the best thing we could do given the situation with the late game and all that. New opponent and just, I don’t know.

Q: How big of a role has Aqib Talib played in the secondary since arriving?

BB: Aqib has done a good job for us, done a real good job. Smart player, good communicator, really competes hard, really competes well every day in practice and competes well on the field, whatever he’s asked to do – man coverage, zone coverage, tackling, special teams – whatever it is, he really works hard, competes hard and a smart guy with good skills. He’s a good football player. He communicates well with his teammates. He’s one of our offseason award winners so he’s put in a lot of hard work and he’s had some good result.

Q: What has Joe Vellano done that has allowed him to emerge a little bit as a contributor this year?

BB: Joe is a hard working kid. He was a productive player in college and he played a lot of spots at Maryland: he played end, he played tackle, he played some on the nose. He has good instincts, kind of has a nose for the ball and a good feel for what’s going on. He’s really worked hard to, of course, come in and as an undrafted player and earn a spot on the roster. He’s had an opportunity to get some playing time as we went through preseason and he took advantage of those opportunities, made a few plays, had some production and it probably led to a little bit more opportunity and so forth. I think that there are a lot of things that he’s improved in, in terms of technique and recognition and reaction and all that. He’s still got a long way to go but definitely making progress. He works hard every day. He’s usually the first one on and the last one off the field or close to it. He puts in a lot of extra time, tries to get better at the things he needs to work on and that’s helped him.

Q: What did you see in Chris Jones to claim him and what have you seen from him in the last few weeks that makes him a guy you want to work with?

BB: Of course we did all the players coming out in the draft and Chris was part of that process. He ended up being drafted by Houston. We claimed him at the final cut, where Tampa had the priority and got him. Then when they, I guess, got in a roster bind and had to release him, we were able to claim him the second time. This is the first game he was active for so he’s had a couple weeks of practice, a lot of meetings with Coach [Patrick] Graham and extra work on the field, before and after practice, especially after practice: one-on-ones and different group drills that we do and so forth. I think he’s getting a better familiarity with our system and our communication and the techniques that we play and all that. He did some of those in Houston where he played both nose and end in their 3-4 scheme. Of course, he’s played an even front as well down there in their sub defense similar to ours and also some of that in college. I think just overall getting familiar with what we do, our calls, his assignments, block reactions – all those kind of things have gotten better over the last couple weeks. He was active for the game and had an opportunity to play some last night. Hopefully he can build on that.

Q: What have you seen out of Matthew Mulligan these last few weeks?

BB: He had a big catch on third down in the red area, that was a play in the game. Good throw, tight throw, but a good throw and a good catch. Matt’s an experienced player. We’ve seen him through the years; played against him when he was at the Jets. We’ve been able to see him through his travels through the league. He’s a tough kid, smart. He came in here and picked things up and learned them pretty quickly. Again, I’m sure that he’s done a lot of the things that we do, they just may be have been termed differently or had a little different, were systematically just termed a little differently but similar type things and so forth. He’s a pretty experienced player. He’s worked hard. He hasn’t had a great deal of playing time but has been solid with the playing time that he has had. That’s the type of thing that will lead to more opportunity. He’s a hard working guy that does his job, knows what his role is, works hard to do it well. He’s given us some good, solid plays in there when he’s been on the field, similar to James Develin. I could say similar thing about James: working hard, having a role but when he’s called on to do it, he goes in there and performs it well. We need that.

Q: Are his hands better than he’s given credit for? He’s known as a blocker.

BB: I think his hands are good. I think he catches the ball well. I don’t think that’s really an issue. I don’t think he’s ever going to – he’s a blocker, he’s tough and he’s strong. I think he catches the ball fine.

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