Curran: There is no replacement for Wilfork

Curran: There is no replacement for Wilfork
September 30, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Unless the Ravens decide to deal Haloti Ngata,  nobody is coming in to replace Vince Wilfork.
Wilfork is irreplaceable, a player so entrenched in the Patriots operation on the field, off the field, between the ears and as an example, there is no fill-in. There isn’t even a comp.
The better question on this Monday is, “Who takes the snaps on the defensive line along with Tommy Kelly, Joe Vellano and Chris Jones?”
Already shorthanded at the defensive tackle position before Big Vince’s Achilles gave way in Atlanta, the Patriots need bodies now. Wide ones.
The most obvious move they’ll make is elevating Marcus Forston from the practice squad to the active roster.
The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Forston got a lot of reps in training camp and preseason and Wilfork was constantly in the ear of his fellow University of Miami attendee. Forston was undrafted out of Miami in 2012. He played three games as a junior before a knee injury ended his season. He declared for the draft and went untouched but was with the Patriots throughout last season.
A.J. Francis, a 6-5, 316-pound rookie is also on the practice squad.
The Patriots have been transitioning away from the space-eaters. They jettisoned Myron Pryor, Brandon Deaderick, and Kyle Love in the offseason. They brought in Armond Armstead from the CFL (he was placed on the non-football injury list after surgery to address an infection in late July; we’ll be checking on his status) and Kelly. Both are longer, leaner players than the guys they let go.
If the Patriots go outside Foxboro to address the position, it isn’t likely to be with a “name” player. Since Wilfork hobbled off, the notion of the Patriots re-signing Richard Seymour has been floated. Aside from the fact Seymour and the Patriots ended things on awful terms and Seymour expressed little interest in returning to New England to play football ever, there’s the question of what he could do and for how long.
He’s 34 next week. He’s a free agent who hasn’t been with anyone since his contract with the Raiders expired last season. Could he play some? Certainly. Would it be a wise option, signing a 34-year-old who hasn’t been training for football to replace a 33-year-old who just got hurt? No.
Consider the “names” that attracted most of the conversation as prospective Patriots in the offseason. Dwight Freeney. He tore his quad Sunday. Ed Reed. Just played his first game for the Texans on Sunday thanks to hip issues. John Abraham. Four tackles in four games for the Cardinals.
Nick Caserio and the rest of the Patriots personnel staff has its list of best available players at every position at the ready for circumstances like this. All the workouts the team holds through the course of the year are more often information-gathering exercises rather than signs of looming transactions.
The Patriots have someone in mind to play defensive line for them next week in Cincinnati, assuming some of the reps Wilfork leaves behind. Maybe there are two guys, and maybe more moves will come. But there is no Wilfork replacement.