Without Vince Wilfork, Patriots focus on Bengals

Leave it to the wife of a Patriots player to break some injury news. Bianca Wilfork posted a message on her Twitter account earlier this afternoon that included a picture of her husband, Vince. It showed the Patriots’ defensive lineman sitting in a hospital chair and giving a thumbs-up sign, right foot in a cast, following surgery on his Achilles tendon, which he injured Sunday night.

“Thanking God for a successful surgery,” Bianca Wilfork tweeted.

Wilfork wouldn’t have been in the locker room today. Patriots players are off on Tuesdays. The only team access is a weekly teleconference with head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Much of the call was spent discussing this Sunday’s opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, but Patricia was asked about losing his veteran lineman, likely for the season.


“Vince is just a phenomenal player both on and off the field for us. From his leadership to his ability to his work ethic, which is such an incredible example, all of which all of our guys look at and try to model themselves after,” Patricia said. “Certainly injuries are an unfortunate part of the game of football, but that is what it is, and we’re obviously going to expect whoever’s out on the field to perform to the highest level of their ability. But Vince is certainly someone who we rely on week in week out to really attack each opponent at a truly very professional level.”

Both Patricia and Belichick spoke highly of the Bengals’ offense, which certainly will try to exploit the void created by Wilfork’s absence. Third-year quarterback Andy Dalton has a solid core of skill players to work with, from running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard to receivers A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu to tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert.

“I’d say Green is as good a pure route runner as we’ll see,” Belichick said. “He’s a very good pure receiver: Quick off the ball, creates separation, excellent timing, judgment on the ball, good deep ball receiver, good third down, red area receiver. He’s big but he’s not the kind of powerful guy, [like] Julio Jones or Vincent Jackson, but his quickness, his ability to separate and get away from people is outstanding and his ability to go up and get the ball is very good too. Those other guys are big, strong guys that can go up and get it with good ball skills. He has that same kind of size, but I’d say it’s a different type of athleticism. He makes some really spectacular catches, like Lynn Swann-ish.”


The Bengals’ team strength might be their defense, though, so McDaniels and the offense will need to continue the progress that was evident in the 30-23 win on Sunday over the Falcons.

“I think they really have solid players and disruptive players at all three levels. That to me is a big challenge any time you play a defense that has playmakers, guys that can create turnovers at all three levels of the defense,” McDaniels said. “That always presents challenges for the offense because you have to do a good job of, first of all, taking care of the line of scrimmage against this team.

“This is a really disruptive front. They do a good job of creating negative plays in the running game, penetrating and getting in the backfield.”

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