|Vince Wilfork on D&H: Patriots’ win over Vikings ‘huge step forward’||09.15.14 at 5:19 pm ET|
Against the Dolphins in Week 1, the Patriots defense allowed 23 unanswered points in the second half. Wilfork said after the game that the Patriots would step up their performance against the Vikings. The defense did just that, allowing just one touchdown early in the game against Minnesota.
“I think we did pretty well,” Wilfork said of the defense. “Everything wasn’t perfect, but it definitely was a step in the right direction. Going into that game just kind of felt that this week was a good week for us to get back on track and start playing the way we want to play. That was a huge step forward for us. We just have to continue to just keep grinding away, this week, weeks after this. It’s going to get tougher. Every game gets tougher. Every game is more important.”
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson did not play in Sunday’s game because of a domestic abuse incident involving his son. Despite not having to go against one of the league’s best running backs, Wilfork said he wished the Patriots could have faced him.
“I was kind of bummed out because I really wanted us to face a good back,” Wilfork said. “Not saying that the backs they had weren’t good, but when you talk about Adrian Peterson, he’s one of the best in the game. I thought it’d be a good challenge for us defensively to go in off of a performance that we had a week before, with a running back that definitely knows what he’s doing. But we didn’t get it. But at the same time, we didn’t let that affect how we went into the game plan.”
|Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘This defense is a lot better than what we’ve shown’||09.08.14 at 7:10 pm ET|
New England’s 33-20 loss included 23 unanswered points in the second half from the Dolphins. Wilfork said the loss bothered him so much that he got an early start at looking at video on the trip back to Foxboro.
“Just looking at the film, and it bothered me last, so I got a jump on it last night on the plane just to see there were the breakdowns were,” Wilfork said. “Just small things. But, you know, a bunch of small things amount to big things and that’s exactly what happened to us last night. We have to be able to regroup and get back focus, especially starting with the run game because going to Minnesota, with one of the best running backs in the game, and all they do is depend on their pounding game. We know it’s going to be a tough week. But at the same time, we know we have to get better, and we will.”
Dolphins Running backs Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller led the offensive charge with a combined 191 yards on the ground — 102 yards more than the Patriots’ ground attack.
“I know that they had good backs able to run the ball,” he said. “But giving up the yards we gave up, we’re way better than that. This defense is a lot better than what we’ve shown. It’s frustrating and you’re disappointed, but at the same time there’s a lot of football to play. Our main goal is to get better each week. We have a long season so we can’t hold our head down because the ball is going to keep rolling.
“You want to be a tough defense, you got to be able stop the run. You want to be a tough football team, you to go to be able to be able to run the ball and stop the run. Plain and simple.”
Even though the Patriots struggled on the defensive side of the ball Sunday, especially in the second half, Wilfork said the Patriots’ goal is to be one of the top defenses in the league.
“Our goal is to be one of the best defenses on the field, simple,” he noted. “I’m not being arrogant, I’m not being crazy, I’m speaking with confidence for my team, for myself. I’m speaking with a lot of confidence because I know what we have. I know the type of players that we have in that locker room. I understand the type of players that we have on the defensive line. And we have a bunch of good football players that can play the game.”
|Sealver Siliga says he’s ‘ready to play on Sunday’||09.01.14 at 8:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski wasn’t the only Patriots player Monday making a declaration of readiness to play this Sunday in the season opener.
After coming out of joint practices with the Redskins in early August with an injured left wrist, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga pronounced himself ready to play against the Dolphins in the 2014 opener. The addition of the 6-foot-2, 325-pound tackle to the defensive line adds some valuable depth behind Vince Wilfork and Joe Vellano.
“I feel good. I feel great, ready to get this going, ready to play on Sunday. It’s been a while. It’s been about a month since I’ve taken my last snap. That’s what [Monday] is for and the next few days, to get back out there and start running around with the fellas and see what I can pick up.”
The Patriots spent much of August taking a serious look at the interior of their defensive line, bringing in players like Jerel Worthy (released on Saturday) and Ben Bass (released) to compete with Vellano and Siliga. That didn’t stop with roster cuts as they picked up rookie Bruce Gaston from Arizona and Kelcy Quarles from the Giants on Sunday.
“This is the team that we’re going to go along with. I’m excited about the team the coaches have put together. I’m just going to go out there and work hard and wherever coach puts me out there, I’m going to do what I have to for the team.”
Siliga, who showed his value as a fixture in the middle of the defensive line last year, is a 24-year-old tackle trying to stick in New England after stops with the 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks early in his career.
“It’s a situation where I came from, I never want to feel comfortable,” Siliga said. “The last few years how they’ve turned out for me has helped me understand that every day I have in the NFL is a blessing so I don’t look at it as being comfortable.”
Siliga has been in Foxboro long enough to know there’s no shortage of leadership on defense.
“Definitely we have leaders in Vince and Mayo and Revis on the outside,” Siliga said. “If we all just stick together and everybody does their job, we should be OK.”
Will Siliga’s conditioning be up to snuff and ready for game action after sitting out the entire preseason?
“I was just making sure that I was staying in condition, and that my conditioning was up there and my strength stays up there and I make sure I hit the playbook and know all my stuff 100 percent,” he said. “I ran a lot, do extra stuff today and get ready.”
|5 most important Patriots not named Tom Brady||08.26.14 at 12:00 am ET|
There’s no need to debate who is the most important member of the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady has been the single most integral part of New England’s football success on a week-in, week-out basis for the last decade-plus. But who makes up the rest of the nucleus? With the 2014 regular season looming, here are the five most important Patriots not named Brady — in no particular order.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman — Edelman has emerged as Brady’s go-to target of choice over the last year-plus. The former college quarterback topped the 100-catch mark last season, becoming just the third pass-catcher of the Brady era to come away with at least 100 catches in a season (Troy Brown and Wes Welker are the other two.) Over the course of the summer, he displayed an almost creepy level of chemistry with the quarterback. In two preseason games, Edelman has showed that regardless of what happens with Rob Gronkowski‘s health in 2014, he will be one of the fundamental elements of the New England passing game. In two preseason games Brady targeted Edelman 10 times, and the receiver caught all 10 passes.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski — Gronkowski is the difference-maker, the sort of offensive option who can help New England get to its ultimately goal. The only question is his health — the big tight end played in his first 46 straight games in the NFL, but since his forearm snapped blocking on an extra point against the Colts in 2012, he’s only played in nine of a possible 26 games. It’s important to note that the Patriots looked like they learned to survive without him down the stretch and into the postseason last year. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots averaged 32 points per game and 5.94 yards per play with Gronkowski in the lineup from Weeks 7-14. Without Gronkowski (from Week 15 through the end of their postseason run), New England averaged 30.8 points per game and 5.82 yards per play. It was a drop-off, but not the dramatic dip that some may have anticipated. At the same time, the real struggles in other areas (red zone presence, blocking) have created an environment where it’s simply not sustainable to think the Patriots could hope to win a Super Bowl without him.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis — Revis has only been a part of the New England roster for a few months, but he already figures to be a vital part of any success the Patriots have in 2014. Even for a future Hall of Famer it can be an occasionally dicey proposition joining a new team, but he’s managed to fit in seamlessly. As a new face, he has managed to walk a fine line between being deferential to the established veterans who were already on the roster, but at the same time he’s managed to carve out a leadership position of his own. He was the guy who led a group of defensive backs out to Arizona for offseason workouts with his trainer, and the younger defensive backs (including Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon) have confessed to picking his brain on more than one occasion. He hasn’t played a ton in the preseason (we had him at 36 snaps — with penalties — through the first three games of the preseason, and has one pass completed in his direction in that time), but it certainly appears he’s not hampered by any of the knee woes that managed to keep him sidelined for almost the entire duration of the 2012 season.
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|Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘This is as strong as I have ever been in my career’||08.25.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork checked in with Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss how he feels physically coming off his season-ending Achillies injury last season and what it’s like to see some of his fellow defensive linemen get cut. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Wilfork was placed on season-ending injured reserve after Week 4 of last season with an Achilles injury. Making his rehab even harder was his weight and age, as being 32 years old and 325 pounds doesn’t make it easy recovering from any injury — yet alone a foot injury.
The 10-year veteran said it was all hard work as he was determined to come back better than ever.
“Playing football at any level, I think this is the strongest I have been,” Wilfork said. “I worked my tail off with the training staff — strength and conditioning, you name it, we worked. There were times where I was on vacation, it wasn’t vacation because I was getting up at five in the morning taking advantage of three days of running on the beach, walking in the water to get the healing, going in the pool, swimming, walking four miles a day and then walking again at night.
“I was hitting it — all day it was something me and my wife were constantly doing just to make sure this thing had the strength to be able to move around. There were some things that we changed around and we said, ‘You know what, I want to make this one of my best year’s that I played football and I don’t know what the future my hold with that, but so far so good.’ I’m happy and I’m healthy and I hope I can stay that way.”
Being in the league as long as he has, Wilfork knows cuts are bound to happen, but it is especially tough to see players he became so close with lose their jobs — which was what happened with veteran defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and Will Smith on Monday as the Patriots let them both go.
“It is tough. We all worked together this offseason — rehabbing our injuries and getting back — the amount of time that we put in together at the facility, with the staff, the rehab and all that stuff,” Wilfork said. “You kind of build a whole different bond and it’s always sad to see people get cut, especially people that have been around for awhile — guys you’ve been playing with forever. But, times do come and changes always happen at this level. Nothing surprises me. It’s always something going on.
“Everyone has different ways of dealing with it. Me personally it’s just sad because you know the majority of these guys won’t have a job, at least not here. And you’ve been through OTAs, offseason programs with these guys, you’ve been through mini-camp, you’ve been through training camp with these guys. It’s sad to see some guys go, but that’s the nature of the business and we have to deal with it. I respect everybody, but at the same time it is a business.”
|Bill Belichick: Vince Wilfork has ‘done a solid job’ in getting back from torn Achilles||08.24.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
Coming off a torn Achilles suffered in Week 4 against the Falcons last season — forcing him to go on season-ending injured reserve — Vince Wilfork appears ready for the upcoming season.
Wilfork hasn’t missed a practice this preseason, but like most starters he didn’t play in the first preseason game against the Redskins. He has played in the last two games — including almost the entire first half of last Friday’s game with the Panthers, showing no issues at all with the foot he injured last season.
“Vince has done everything pretty much since the last week or so of OTAs,” Bill Belichick said during Sunday’s conference call. “He’s done everything with the team, no real restrictions. He hasn’t really missed any time or anything. He’s been out there and worked hard. He’s getting himself ready for the season as he should be. He’s done a solid job of getting himself back and getting ready to play football this year. We’ll see how it goes going forward. I have no issues with him, I think he’s worked very hard coming back from the injury he had last year and be ready to go this season.”
With the Patriots playing more of a 3-4 defensive scheme this preseason, Wilfork has been in the middle of the defensive line — drawing a few double-teams — along with Joe Vellano and Tommy Kelly on either side of him. This has allowed Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich to line up in a standing position at the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot and get a better jump on getting after the quarterback, or dropping back into pass coverage at times.
With Wilfork and Kelly out last season, the Patriots could not use this scheme as Ninkovich and Jones were forced to line up in a three-point stance on the line with the lack of healthy defensive linemen.
Although Wilfork has looked good in the two joint practice sessions with the Redskins and Eagles as well as in the two preseason games, Belichick is quick to point out it’s only the preseason and the real games have yet to begun, so it is unfair to make clear assertions.
“It’s preseason. Let’s not confuse preseason with regular season,” Belichick said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been out there and participated. He played in all three preseason games. We’re all getting ready for the regular season, but we’ll see what happens when the regular season starts for all of us — players, coaches, rookies, veterans, everybody. That’s when we’ll really see where everybody is.”
|Vince Wilfork on new points of emphasis enforcement: ‘There were a lot of flags [Tuesday] – it’s kind of different’||08.13.14 at 6:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — For the second time this preseason the Patriots got a first-hand look at how the new league points of emphasis will be called when referees were on hand at Tuesday’s joint practice with the Eagles following last Thursday’s first preseason game with the Redskins.
The referees called drills like they were a game — throwing flags for the penalties they saw. The general theme with the players, coaches, as well as officials is there will be an adjustment period.
“There were a lot of flags today — it’s kind of different, but they are making a point of emphasis of certain things and they are throwing the flags so we had a good look at it today and we have to be better on that end,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
There were a number of flags thrown at defensive backs for defensive holding and illegal contact during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, which was one of the main points of emphasis for the season. This was clearly evident by the number of these types of penalties called in the first week of the preseason. For players who play in the secondary, they understand it is just part of what the game has evolved into.
“I think it’s just the way the league is,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said. “They want to see points scored and if it gets too crazy and they feel like the defense is impeding too much on points being scored then there will be a rule change or point of emphasis on that to try and help the offense score.”
For cornerback Darrelle Revis, he’s just trying to get accustomed to the new rules by the time the regular season hits.
“It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning stages and the only thing we can do is ask questions and learn,” Revis said. “There were a lot of flags out there today, but at the same time, it’s a new rule and we’re just trying to get acclimated and do the best thing we can do by covering receivers in the preseason games and in the regular season.”
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