Wilfork says he'll be ready

Pro Bowl defensive tackle has missed past three games

January 07, 2010|By Brent Jones | brent.jones@baltsun.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — - Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork will return to the New England Patriots' lineup Sunday for the first time in a month, solidifying a line that has had its share of mixing and matching this season.

Wilfork has missed the past three games with a foot injury but cracked a smile when asked to assess his condition after practice Wednesday.

"I'm feeling pretty good. Best I can be," Wilfork said.

Wilfork was named to his second Pro Bowl after making 65 tackles. He has no sacks and has caused just one fumble, but his dominance lies in the Patriots' ability to play a three-man defensive line when he's healthy, shifting him to nose tackle.

Wilfork, who weighs 325 pounds, can easily take up two blockers and still not be moved. The Ravens rushed for 116 yards in a 27-21 loss to the Patriots on Oct. 4, with 50 yards coming on a run by Ray Rice.

"They want to run the football, point-blank," Wilfork said of the Ravens' attack featuring Rice and former Miami teammate Willis McGahee. "When you get a tough, physical football team, that's two things they do; they stop the run, and they run the ball very well. And the Ravens do that on both sides of the ball. It's going to be challenging, and we understand that."

Wilfork stopped short of calling himself the key to containing the Ravens' running game, instead saying, "It's all the front seven. If we all doing our job, then we shouldn't have a problem."

Defense lineman Ty Warren, out two of the past three games with an ankle injury, is also expected to start.

Better at wide receiver
Julian Edelman will play in place of injured Wes Welker on Sunday at wide receiver, a position the former Kent State quarterback never played before this year.

Edelman is coming off a 10-catch, 103-yard showing against Houston. Tom Brady poked fun at a player who could be his most-frequent target Sunday.

"It's pretty remarkable what he's done as a former quarterback, which I don't know how he was a former quarterback because he can't throw at all," Brady said. "He tries to tell me, 'Yeah, I threw for 2,000 yards.' I'm like, 'Man, you can't hit that wall over there.' I'm glad he plays receiver and not quarterback anymore."

Welker was officially placed on injured reserve. The Patriots promoted linebacker Thomas Williams from the practice squad to fill Welker's roster spot.

Light reflects back
Most of the Patriots, including coach Bill Belichick, choose not to publicly reflect on the team's October win over the Ravens, but offensive tackle Matt Light did not shy away from the topic.

"I think there's a lot you can learn from the first game, the matchups and certain things that happened out there," Light said. "There are a lot of things that you have to prepare for, and like I said, it's a huge week."

Light is part of an offensive line that allowed just 18 sacks this year.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.