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."