FOXBOROUGH – With the loss of all-pro defensive tackle Vince Wilfork to an Achilles’ tendon tear, the Patriots will have to replace his skill and leadership by committee, coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday.
“I think everybody is going to have to, we’re all going to have to pull that rope,” Belichick said. “There’s no replacing Vince Wilfork. You just don’t replace Vince Wilfork. We’ll still have his presence around the team and the locker room, and those type of things, which I think he’s great at. On the field, we’ll miss him. But whoever is out there, those other 11 guys that are out there, they’re all gonna have to – we’re all going to have to pull a little bit harder, including the coaching staff and all that.
“It’s a big loss but we’re just going to have to find a way to do it. That means everybody doing their job. Obviously somebody is going to have to replace him. Whoever those people are, they’re going to have to answer the bell. But collectively as a team, we’re all going to have to pull it together. There is no one person that can replace Vince Wilfork.”
Belichick also conceded there is a small possibility the team changes the way its defensive tackles operate. Wilfork often took on multiple blockers to free up defenders, and he was on the field for 81 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, through the first 10 snaps of the Atlanta Falcons game before he was injured.
“I mean, look he hasn’t played every single play,” Belichick said. “There has been times in when he hasn’t been on the field, so it isn’t like we haven’t seen him not on the field. But obviously he’s been a key guy for us and he plays a lot. We had to deal without him in Atlanta, we’ll have to deal without him going forward. We may do that. Some things I’m sure we’ll continue to do but some things we may have to modify. We’ll see how that goes.”