Patriots prepare for Redskins rushing attack

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Patriots prepare for Redskins rushing attack

FOXBORO -- The Washington Redskins are the second-worst rushing team in the NFL. But Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork isn't taking that statistic lightly.

In fact, he believes that New England's defensive strategy on Sunday in Washington will be heavily focused on stopping the Redskins' rushing attack.

"This team runs the ball pretty good," said Wilfork on Thursday at Gillette Stadium. "Shanahan has success everywhere he's been, with his offense running the ball. We know that. It's not going to change. It starts with the running game. We can't be in 3rd-and-2 and 3rd-and-3 all game, or we're going to have a long, long night. So we've got to be able to buckle up on first and second down, and be able to get them in long yardage situations.

"It's going to start up front. It's definitely going to start up front with us. If we don't play well, it'll be a long day."

While the Redskins are only 4-8, Wilfork admitted that it's not easy to prepare for a team they rarely play.

"It's challenging," said Wilfork. "When you don't see a team, you're not familiar as you are with a divisional team or a team you face every year. So, we have our work cut out."

At least, he thinks he knows what to expect.

"Shanahan, he's old school," said Wilfork. "You look at the film, they're physical. And one way you can gauge a team and how tough they are, is, can they run the football? And they run the ball, they run the ball.

"It's a big challenge for us, defensively, but, as a defensive player, you have to live for these games. One of these games where there won't be much trickery and you won't do a lot of guessing, knowing what a team wants to do.

And according to Wilfork, the Redskins will want to run the football against them on Sunday.

Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

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Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took to the practice field behind Gillette Stadium on Friday with all but one player. 

Wideout Danny Amendola was the only player not present at the session. Newly-acquired receiver Griff Whalen was present and wearing No. 14. 

Safety Jordan Richards was back on the practice field for the first time since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12. Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), Elandon Roberts (hamstring), Eric Rowe (hamstring) and Matthew Slater (foot) were all limited in practice on Thursday, but were on the field Friday.

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all. 

He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.  

On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed. 

“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”

The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”

As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”