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Patriots notebook

Wilfork hopes to avoid hit

Vince Wilfork was penalized 15 yards during the Miami game, and the league may add a fine to that. Vince Wilfork was penalized 15 yards during the Miami game, and the league may add a fine to that. (Stephan Savoia/Associated Press)
By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / January 7, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH — Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork will likely learn today whether he’ll be fined for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Miami quarterback Chad Henne in last Sunday’s season-ending 38-7 romp over the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

Wilfork said he was disappointed to get hit with a 15-yard penalty on the play. Replays seemed to indicate that he plowed into Henne shoulder-first.

“When I did hit him and saw the flag, I thought about the quarterback and not knowing if it was helmet-to-helmet, if he dropped his head a little bit,’’ Wilfork said. “In the moment, you kind of figure that they’re going to try and protect players.

“I understand that, especially when it comes down to quarterbacks.’’

Wilfork, who was fined $5,000 last month for a face mask penalty in the game against the Packers, felt he didn’t merit a flag in this instance.

“I’m very disappointed with the flag,’’ he said. “But at the same time, I have to keep my composure, which I did — which I think I did a real good job of — and continued to play.

“And you know what? A couple of plays later, I got another [sack].’’

After Henne threw back-to-back incompletions, Wilfork finally got his man when he sacked the quarterback for a 7-yard loss on third and 10 from the Miami 48, forcing the visitors to punt.

“That just goes to show you how quick things can go from bad to good,’’ Wilfork said.

A vote for Manning The accolades continued to roll in for Tom Brady, who yesterday was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for December.

But Jets coach Rex Ryan, whose team faces the Colts in the playoffs tomorrow night, seemed to take a backhanded slap at Brady in heaping praise on Peyton Manning.

“There’s nobody like this guy in the league,’’ Ryan said. “Nobody studies like him and all that. I know Brady thinks he does and all that stuff, but I think there’s a little more help from [Bill] Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.

“I mean, [former Colts offensive coordinator] Tom Moore has done a great job with him forever, [Jim] Caldwell and Tony Dungy and things like that, but it’s Peyton Manning. That’s who it is.’’

To play or pass? Wes Welker said he and Matt Light learned of their Pro Bowl selections after Wednesday’s practice when Belichick announced to the team the pair had been added as injury replacements for Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Dolphins tackle Jake Long.

While Light declined to talk about his accolade yesterday, Welker said of his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection, “It feels good. Obviously, I don’t think it’s been my greatest year or anything like that, but at the same time, I’m definitely happy about being added onto the Pro Bowl squad.

“It’s exciting, but we still have a long way to go as a team, and have a lot of team goals that we need to go conquer.’’

The addition of Welker and Light gives the Patriots eight representatives on the AFC roster, but if the team advances to the Super Bowl, the Patriots will not have anyone in Hawaii, as the game is played the previous week.

“That’s the plan,’’ Welker said. “I don’t think anybody really wants to play in it at this point. At the same time, it’s a great honor to be a part of it.’’

Welker, who was inactive for the regular-season finale against the Dolphins, said he felt refreshed the next day.

“I definitely felt a lot better physically and everything like that,’’ said Welker, who participated in yesterday’s full-pad workout. “It was a little strange having that day off but at the same time it was relaxing, my body felt great.’’

There were five absentees from yesterday’s media-access portion of practice: defensive end Eric Moore, defensive lineman Mike Wright, tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Center Dan Koppen and running back Danny Woodhead remained in non-contact jerseys while offensive guard Dan Connolly shed his.

Pryor knowledge Myron Pryor, after missing seven games with a back injury, returned to action against the Dolphins. “I was a little rusty and I’m just coming back,’’ said Pryor. “Once I get into the real flow of practice again, I think I should be back to where I was at the beginning of the season. It’s been a while, so I’m just getting that feel back.’’ . . . Running back Thomas Clayton, claimed off waivers from Cleveland Dec. 2 after being released by the Patriots Oct. 23, saw his first action of the season at the end of Sunday’s game, rushing six times for 17 yards. “Felt really good, especially to be a part of a win like that,’’ Clayton said. “I know it’s one thing to participate in practice and help the guys get ready, but to actually be a part of that felt really good.’’ . . . Linebacker Marques Murrell feels he got a reprieve by re-signing with the Patriots, the team that released him Sept. 13 after he appeared in the season opener against the Bengals. “I didn’t have any workouts over the course of the year,’’ he said. “I watched a lot of guys and watched the wire a lot and saw there were guys getting worked out left and right and it was kind of frustrating after a while. Me and my agent talked about it and he just said, ‘Be ready and just be professional about it,’ and that’s all I could do.’’ . . . A limited amount of playoff tickets will become available to the public today online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone by calling 1-800-745-3000. They will not be sold at the Gillette Stadium ticket office.

Monique Walker and Shalise Manza Young of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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