Koppen's return with Broncos is nature of the business to Wilfork

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Koppen's return with Broncos is nature of the business to Wilfork

FOXBORO -- Vince Wilfork has been around long enough to know that, at the end of the day, football is a business.

So when he lines up across from former teammate and center Dan Koppen on Sunday, it'll be strange. That's human nature. But what's also human nature, is players coming and going.

And in Koppen's case, he signed with the Denver Broncos in early September, after being released from the Patriots.

But the last thing that Wilfork wants to do is make Sunday's game against the Broncos at Gillette Stadium about that.

"Being with him for nine years, I know Koppen a little bit," said Wilfork with a smile on Thursday. "He knows me also a little bit. So, it is what it is when it comes down to that.

"I don't think either one of us is any different. We want to try to win a ball game. It's Denver versus the Patriots, not, the Patriots versus Koppen or Koppen versus the Patriots."

As Wilfork kept pointing out, it's the nature of the business.

"We've seen guys come and go, and play against guys that had been here, that had been teammates before," said Wilfork. "And it's never been a problem. We don't want it to be a problem this week.

"It's the nature of the business. People come and go."

Wilfork found that out early in his NFL career, as he saw Willie McGinest get cut and then sign with the Cleveland Browns.

"Being here nine years, I've seen a lot of people come and go," said Wilfork. "I think the first one probably was Willie McGinest, when he left. It's strange, because you come in as a rookie, McGinest was one of the guys I looked up to, being a defensive player and him being a leader here. I actually watched him in high school.

"That was the first one, but that wasn't the last one. And it's not going to be the last one. So, you've got to take it in stride. You have relationships with guys, off the field relationships, and it is what it is. I'm here to do a job. That's to do my job at the best ability that I can. And it won't stop this Sunday."

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”

 

 

Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

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Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

OUT
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)