Green-Ellis: Wilfork injury is 'big loss' to Pats

Green-Ellis: Wilfork injury is 'big loss' to Pats
October 2, 2013, 1:00 pm
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FOXBORO -- If anybody knows about the "next man up" mentality in New England, it's Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

The undrafted Green-Ellis spent his first four NFL seasons with the Patriots, where he recorded his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2010.

But as much as he understands his former team's philosophy about other players stepping up in the face of injury and adversity, he also realizes that nobody is going to replace Vince Wilfork.

Green-Ellis said just as much in a conference call on Wednesday morning, days prior to the Bengals' Week 5 game against the Patriots in Cincinnati on Sunday.

"Obviously it's a big loss in what Vince brings," said Green-Ellis. "Not only from being maybe the best nose tackle or best defensive tackle in the league, but his leadership on and off the field is something that they're going to have to lean on other guys, like Mayo and things like for leadership right now. You can't really describe what you're going to miss when Vince Wilfork is not out there, from not only being a standout player, but also being a leader out there on the defense."

But as Green-Ellis has experienced first-hand, he also knows somebody will step up and become a contributing factor. And sure, Joe Vellano is no Wilfork, but Green-Ellis already sees the undrafted rookie making big plays.

"Those younger guys have been playing this year," said Green-Ellis. "It's an adjustment. Obviously they can't do the same thing that Vince does, but [Vellano] came in and he got a sack. I remember watching the game and he came in and got a sack.

"But like I said, you never can replace a Vince Wilfork. Not in the middle of a season like this. But the other guys, the young guys that they have, are doing a good job when he's not in. They're coming in and playing well, as well."

When pressed to describe just how much Wilfork's absence on Sunday will open things up for the Bengals' offense, Green-Ellis just continued to echo New England's "next man up" approach.

"The young guys are doing a good job of coming in and doing their thing as well," said Green-Ellis. 'They're not Vince, but they're coming in and they're not giving up plays and things like that. They're doing a good job of coming in and playing ball as well. Vince, when he goes down, it's hard to replace him, but the next guy has to step up, and that's what you're seeing from the young guys. The young guys are stepping up and playing ball."