Patriots come to grips with Wilfork's loss

Patriots come to grips with Wilfork's loss
October 2, 2013, 3:00 pm
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FOXBORO -- As the Patriots continue to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the harsh reality of not having Vince Wilfork controlling their defensive line for the rest of the season is starting to kick in.

Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich is used to looking right and seeing Wilfork double-teamed after the ball is snapped. It's something he didn't see on Wednesday at practice, and he won't see again for the rest of the year.

"Having Vince injured is definitely something that you don't want to have happen to you in the season," said Ninkovich after Wednesday's practice. "But again, we can't really dwell on the fact that he's not out there with us. We just have to continue to push on and have other guys try to step up and do some of the things that he can do, to the best of their abilities. And then other guys on the defense, like myself, have to step up and make some more plays.

"It's going to be a difference, because you don't have Big V out there, but again, like I said, that's football. You have to deal with injuries. Injuries are a part of the game. It just happens. So, we've just got to continue to improve and try to do our best to replace him."

Patriots safety Steve Gregory also reacted to the loss of Wilfork, on Wednesday.

"Vince was the rock in there, man," said Gregory. "He's a heck of a football player, and a big loss for our team. But we pride ourselves, and everybody on this roster, on being able to step up and be ready to go in the game whenever your name is called. So, we have guys that are ready to step up and have to go out and perform at a high level, and pick up where we left off.

"I don't think you ever replace a guy like Vince Wilfork," added Gregory. "You just need guys to step up, fill in, and do the best they can, and try to understand what we're trying to do as a defense. Try to make plays and listen to the guys around them, and keep playing. We'll have to rally around whoever's in there, and continue to keep it the way we've been going."

Earlier in the day, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis recognized that the Patriots usually have somebody ready to step up, but he obviously wasn't going discuss whether or not Wilfork's injury would change their game plan against the Patriots.

Meanwhile, the Patriots realize that might be the case, given Wilfork's absence.

"We know that having V out of the game, is going to be a difference and maybe teams are going to attack us differently," said Ninkovich. "We really don't know yet. it comes down to us really just putting our best foot forward, as far as preparation, and doing our best to be ready for these teams, come Sunday.

"It's a shame that we don't have him for the rest of the year, but, we've got to move on."