|Vince Wilfork on coming back from season-ending Achilles injury: ‘I appreciate [football] a lot more’||07.24.14 at 4:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork had gone nine straight seasons in the league without missing significant time. He had played all 16 games a year besides 2009 when he missed the final three games of the regular season before returning for the playoffs.
That all changed last year.
On a Sunday night in Atlanta — the fourth game of the season — the 325-pound defensive tackle suffered an Achilles injury, and was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon.
The 32-year-old has recovered and is now ready for his 11th NFL season, but with a little more appreciation for the game than prior to his injury.
“I’ve always appreciated the game, but being out last year, it just made me dwell a lot more on things a little bit more, and I appreciate it a lot more,” Wilfork said following the first day of training camp on Thursday. “You think about things a little bit differently now going through what I’ve been through. My first time being injured, but it’s one of those things I had a roadblock in the road — what am I going to do about it?”
Wilfork made it through the first training camp session without any issues and did not seem limited in any fashion.
“I feel fine,” he said. “Throughout the offseason, it was just working hard. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some stuff I may need to do, but so far so good. I’m not looking back, I’m looking forward. I’m just excited being here.”
The defensive tackle reflected back to last season and how tough it was watching from the sidelines, but was able to make it through with the help of his teammates, coaches and most importantly his family.
“With the teammates I have, with my coaches, with my family — that’s a big supporter of mine, my family — just having somebody that you can talk to every day, come and work out every day and have guys surrounding you and just being able to comfort you when times get tough,” Wilfork said. “Just having someone to talk to. I think this team does a real good job of that. Everybody just sending you a text or a phone call or just coming to your house to see how you’re doing — it went a long ways for me, and I really appreciate it from everybody.”
|Report: Patriots add Dominique Easley to NFI list, while Alfonzo Dennard and Aaron Dobson will start camp on PUP||07.21.14 at 5:27 pm ET|
With camp looming later this week, the Patriots reportedly made some procedural roster moves Monday designed to allow some of players who are injured or coming off offseason surgery more time to rehab before they get on the field.
According to Field Yates of ESPN, defensive lineman Dominique Easley, running back Roy Finch, linebacker Deontae Skinner and tackle Chris Martin have been placed on the non-football injury list.
Meanwhile, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard; wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Jeremy Gallon; defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and special teamer Matt Slater were placed on the physically unable to perform list. Most of the players in this grouping were either limited (working with a rehab group) or not present during the media portion of the spring workouts.
In both cases — the active/physically unable to perform list as well as the active/non-football injury list — they can come off the list and return to practice at any time after they have been cleared by the team’s medical staff.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Vince Wilfork: ‘I’m holding no type of grudge’ against Patriots||06.19.14 at 2:43 pm ET|
FOXBORO — All is forgiven, if not forgotten, when it comes to Vince Wilfork and the Patriots.
The perennial Pro Bowl nose tackle spoke Thursday after the conclusion of minicamp for the first time since re-working his contract to return to New England.
Wilfork tore his right Achilles last September in Atlanta and was lost for the rest of the season.
Wilfork returned to Gillette Stadium to be around the team during his rehab but that loyalty didn’t immediately earn him the benefit of the doubt with the organization.
According to multiple reports, he felt slighted by the team and asked to be traded, going as far as removing his nameplate from his locker inside the Patriots locker room.
But after agreeing to a complicated, incentive-laden $23 million, three-year extension ($4 million signing bonus) in late March, Wilfork began the process of moving on. A big step in that process came this week when he stepped on the field for minicamp practices on Tuesday. On Thursday, he spoke for the first time about his return, making it clear that business is business and he’s all about football going forward.
“I’m here. That’s a dead issue,” Wilfork said. “I’m here for a reason. If I didn’t believe in the things that were brought to me, I wouldn’t have signed it. I’m here. There’s a reason that I’m here. I’m not upset. I’m not holding no type of grudge. Business is business. Everybody handles business different ways.
|After a season on the shelf, Tommy Kelly returns to action with Patriots||06.17.14 at 4:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — What’s that saying about the best laid plans?
Veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly went down with what appeared to be a relatively benign knee injury in an October loss to the Bengals. At the time, it appeared Kelly would be able to return to the lineup sooner rather than later, and resume serving as a terrifically disruptive presence up front in his first year for the Patriots’ defense.
“That was my plan,” Kelly said with a laugh following Tuesday’s minicamp session on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. “That’s what I was hoping and praying for, but it just didn’t work out that way.
“Me and the training staff, we worked hard trying to get back to the point where I could get through the game and stuff,” he added. “But it just didn’t work out that way.”
Kelly was out for the rest of the season, a bitter pill considering that the 33-year-old jumped at the chance to sign with New England last offseason for a few reasons — not the least of which is the fact that he had never had the chance to play for a team that finished with a record better than 8-8 in his previous nine seasons in the NFL.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as the 6-foot-6, 310-pounder sat and watched the Patriots finish with a 12-4 mark and a spot in the AFC title game.
“I came here to try and help the team get to the next level, and then (got) hurt,” said Kelly, who ended the year with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks in five games. “Seeing how far we got and not being out there to help the guys out, that was just the hard part.”
That, combined with the loss of Vince Wilfork the week before Kelly went down (Wilfork’s suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury) was a blow to the heart of the New England defense.
“I know coming into the process [Vince] was durable, I was durable at that point in my career. So I pretty much thought that’s all that mattered,” the gregarious Kelly said. “But when you both go down in back to back weeks, that was a blow. Me, not even just having him out there, because he was a real good person for me to lean on coming into a new scheme and system. [When] I got confused about stuff, I would just ask him. He just made it real easy for me.”
As he noted, Kelly had been extremely durable over the course of his career — prior to 2013, he had played 16 regular-season games in seven of the previous eight years. However, he suffered a similar knee injury in 2007 that limited him seven games. While he acknowledged that rehab has been a little easier because of what he went through in 2007, it’s still a difficult experience to be on the shelf with an injury but be around team on a regular basis.
“It is,” he said. “You’re part of the team, but you ain’t because you ain’t in the game plan. I don’t care how much good things you’ve got to say, if you ain’t in the game plan or you ain’t in the game, they really don’t care that much. If the guys asked me something, I was there for them, but I just tried to stay out of the way.”
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|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on return of Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer and end of OTAs||06.12.14 at 5:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about the return of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and the conclusion of Patriots OTAs on Thursday outside Gillette Stadium.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots in rain-soaked OTAs||06.05.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price assess the ups and downs from the second week of Patriots OTAs that concluded in the heavy rain Thursday outside Gillette Stadium. Jimmy Garoppolo made his debut in front of the media on the field while Logan Mankins returned to the field. Rob Gronkowski and Vince Wilfork were also on hand while Aaron Dobson and Alfonzo Dennard were not.
|Veteran DT Kevin Williams: ‘Tell [the Patriots] to look me up’||06.04.14 at 1:05 pm ET|
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is one of several veteran free agents on the market, but sounds like he’d be interested in signing with the Patriots.
Williams was speaking with a reporter from USA Today about the state of many veteran free agents at this time of the year — several of whom are still sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring — when he was asked about the possibility of playing for the Patriots alongside Vince Wilfork.
“Well, give them a call,” Williams said of New England. “Tell them to look me up.”
The six-time Pro Bowler, who will turn 34 next month, has spent 11 years in the NFL, all with the Vikings. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder has been pretty durable over the course of his career, as he’s only missed five regular-season games since entering the league in 2003. Williams has 60.5 career sacks, including 8.5 in 2008.
“I’ve done well managing my money. I think I’d be fine if I don’t play,” Williams added. “But that’s my hope — I hope to be on somebody’s team before summer’s out.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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