It was clear two weeks ago in Richmond that Vince Wilfork hasn’t forgotten his offseason of discontent.
Coming off an Achilles injury, the Patriots wanted to extend Wilfork’s contract to knock down his 2014 cap hit. The extension included salaries that were relatively modest. The defensive tackle responded as expected. Highly agitated. The two sides worked it out but the sting seemingly remains.
Speaking about his offseason fitness and knowing his body, Wilfork said, “I think that’s what is going to keep me around as long as I want to be around and not getting pushed out the door. As long as I want to be around, I’ll be around.”
Nobody’s going to be talking about getting pushed out the door unless they feel like they were being pushed out the door. Nor would they be making declarations about leaving on their own terms.
On a conference call Sunday, Bill Belichick was relatively cool when discussing Wilfork’s performance so far.
“Vince has done everything pretty much since the last week or so of OTAs,” Belichick pointed out. “He’s done everything with the team, no real restrictions. He hasn’t really missed any time or anything. He’s been out there and worked hard. He’s getting himself ready for the season as he should be. He’s done a solid job of getting himself back and getting ready to play football this year. We’ll see how it goes going forward. I have no issues with him, I think he’s worked very hard coming back from the injury he had last year and be ready to go this season.”
Asked how Wilfork performed, Belichick said, “It’s preseason. Let’s not confuse preseason with regular season. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been out there and participated. He played in all three preseason games. We’re all getting ready for the regular season, but we’ll see what happens when the regular season starts for all of us -- players, coaches, rookies veterans, everybody. That’s when we’ll really see where everybody is. I don’t think anybody knows where they are right now.”
Prodded once more for a positive appraisal (“He’s looked good to you?”), Belichick demurred, saying, “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
Belichick ain’t loquacious and throws compliments around like manhole covers. However, in my experience, when Belichick is asked about a pivotal veteran player who is coming off injury and appears to be playing well, the coach is very complimentary.
That can’t be said here. It’s pretty obvious that the atmosphere between the two remains cool.