Wilfork slimmer, ready for his ninth training camp

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Wilfork slimmer, ready for his ninth training camp

FOXBORO -- Whether he's on the field or courtside at a Celtics game, New Englanders know Vince Wilfork when they see him. He's the big guy, generally.

But might New England's favorite mountain of a man have shed some of his signature size? On the first day of training camp, Wilfork appeared to many to have lost some weight.

"Just getting in shape, ready to play some football," Wilfork said, drenched in sweat after the practice session. "That's my main goal. I take my offseason really serious like I do each year. I'm looking forward to a good season. I lost a couple pounds, it's not a big deal."

Wilfork is listed at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds. Over the years, that's been seen as a bit of a conservative listing so perhaps he's getting closer to making it a reality.

Regardless of how he's tipping the scales -- he wouldn't give reporters an estimate of his weight -- it's clear he has taken pride in keeping himself ready to play, especially now that he's in the ninth year of his career.

"A lot of hard work," said Wilfork when asked about his weight-loss program. "Every year they say the older you get the harder it gets so I just wanted to make sure I'm in the most tip-top shape I can be in at camp. Coming in for nine years, I just wanna make sure I have good conditioning up under me and my body feels good. And you know it does. That's an area I took advantage of this offseason and it paid off."

Wilfork's remained remarkably consistent over the course of his career. In fact, he may actually be getting better with age. He's a four-time Pro Bowler and he had one of the best seasons last year. He put up a career-high in sacks (3.5), he hauled in two interceptions and he scored a touchdown in Week 14 against the Redskins. Plus, he had one of the most dominant games of his career at home in the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens.

He figures to be the anchor of the Patriots' defensive line again this season. And though he's a little slimmer, his appetite for football has not been curbed. He says he still enjoys his job, even training camp.

"Nine years now, I remember coming in as a rookie, having all the veterans around me," Wilfork said. "Willie McGinest and Roman Phifer, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson . . . Corey Dillion. It just goes to show, kind of don't pay it no attention, but after a while you start realizing 'I've been around for a little bit.' But it's always the same. You're always excited to come back and start playing this game."

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.”