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Wilfork feels good about his season

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / December 9, 2011
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FOXBOROUGH - Fourteen weeks into the season, training camp seems long ago. Back then, as the Patriots acquired defensive linemen, it was easy to envision a tackle rotation of Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth, Mike Wright, Kyle Love, and Myron Pryor.

But Wright suffered another concussion in Week 1, Pryor suffered a serious shoulder injury in Week 2, and Haynesworth was sent packing a little more than a month ago.

Gerard Warren was brought back after Pryor’s injury, and the constants have been Wilfork and Love.

Coming off one of his best games of the season against the Colts, Wilfork has played in 85.4 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, second only to cornerback Kyle Arrington (85.9 percent).

Typically, defensive backs and middle/inside linebackers are at the top of the list when it comes to participation.

Despite rarely coming off the field - for comparison, last year Wilfork played in 777 of 1,116 snaps (69.6 percent) - Wilfork emphatically said he’s feeling good.

“One hundred percent fresh,’’ he said.

Honest?

“I’m telling the truth,’’ Wilfork said. “Right now, I think everyone feels the same. You have rookies that feel the same way. It’s the time where you have to take care of yourself and take care of your body and put the right things in your body, and it’s the little things to keep you healthy. You’re not going to wake up in December and feel like you did four months ago. It’s not going to happen, but I feel good.

“I can’t complain about the way I feel. I’ll tell you, I feel a lot better than I did a couple of years ago. Knock on wood there, but everyone’s in the same boat and it’s a grind. It’s a tough, tough grind. But this is the NFL. You talk about the best of the best. It doesn’t get any better than this.’’

Wilfork sacked Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the fourth play of last Sunday’s game, and was credited with a team-high 11 tackles (nine solo).

Wilfork was asked if such a performance would lead to him getting more attention from opposing teams.

“I don’t care. My main goal is to do what I can do to help this ball club win,’’ he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a team effort. It’s 11 guys on defense, special teams, and offense, so you have to be able to play well together. One guy rarely makes a big, big difference in winning or losing the game. So, I’m all about doing what’s right for the team.’’

Spikes practices

Linebacker Brandon Spikes returned to practice yesterday for the first time since injuring the medial collateral ligament in his right knee against the Giants in Week 9.

Spikes was one of 13 players listed as limited at practice, and the only change from Wednesday’s injury report.

Wes Welker was listed as limited with a knee injury, though he was photographed at a charity event Tuesday night with a wrap on his right wrist.

Stevan Ridley has been in his native Mississippi dealing with a personal matter, believed to be a death in the family. Earlier in the week he tweeted that he would return to yesterday.

Not all bad

Andre Carter’s time with the Redskins ended amicably, with the team granting him his release before the start of the lockout. While Carter didn’t experience a lot of winning with Washington - the team had double-digit losses in three of his five seasons - he has some good memories.

One thing stood out: the way the Redskins rallied together after safety Sean Taylor was murdered.

“Definitely, the 2007 season, in regards to Sean Taylor and playing hard for him, that was by far one of the best moments,’’ Carter said. “We outplayed the Cowboys the last game of the season; we beat them by 21 points and Sean’s number was 21, so that was definitely a memorable experience that will be cherished forever.’’

Going to Washington

Sunday’s game will be the ninth meeting between the Patriots and Redskins, but just the third in Washington. The Patriots lost the previous two, Oct. 25, 1981, and Sept. 28, 2003 . . . With a win, the Patriots will reach 10 wins for the ninth straight year. Only the 49ers (16 straight, 1983-98) and Colts (nine straight years, 2002-10) have done it.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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