Vince Wilfork to face Patriots for first time
HOUSTON — Houston's Vince Wilfork didn't want to talk about his feelings or admit that Sunday's game against the New England Patriots will be any different than the other 170 games in which he's played.
Only after repeated prodding did Wilfork, a cornerstone of New England's defense for 11 years who signed with Houston this season, finally discuss how he felt after the Patriots didn't pick up his option in March.
"Anytime that you walk away from something that you've been a part of for that long I think it's going to be some side of you that's kind of sad and emotions involved and everything," he said. "I think I've been through that and I've passed that time."
Even though the defensive tackle is over the parting now, he was forced to confront it this week as he prepares to face the team where he spent his first 11 seasons. Wilfork was a first-round pick in 2004 by the Patriots and played 158 games with 148 starts for them, helping them to Super Bowl titles in 2004 and 2014.
After playing in New England for so long, the 34-year-old assumed that he would finish his career there.
"I always thought I would, but that is business," he said. "Sometimes we lose track of business ... when you play this game you kind of block out the business aspect until it is time for business to step in and that was a prime case of this right here, it was just business, it was not anything personal."
Despite finally admitting that he was a bit sad that the Patriots didn't keep him this season, he insisted that he isn't approaching Sunday's game any differently than he normally does.
"I don't look at it any different going into this game as I do going into any other game," he said. "Who knows, I might feel different on Sunday, but I have never been in this situation. As of right now, I don't feel no different. I look at them the same way as I look at any other team."
Wilfork has fit in nicely in Houston where he's added a veteran presence alongside defensive end J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Wilfork has started each game this season for the unit that ranks seventh in the NFL in yards allowed per game.
The 22-year-old Clowney views Wilfork like a wise uncle.
"I call him unc, that's big unc to me," Clowney said. "I take advice from him. He's right beside me in the locker room. I talk to him just about every day when we're here about everything. Anything I have a question about, I ask him."
New England coach Bill Belichick said he thinks Wilfork looks about the same as he did last year and that he thought he played his best game of the season last weekend against Buffalo. He did admit that it will be a bit weird to see him in another uniform on Sunday.
"Sure, yeah, but we deal with that pretty much every week," Belichick said. "There is always somebody on our team that was on their team or somebody on their team that was on our team or a coach or something like that ... we've been through quite a few of those."
Houston defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel had the same position with the Patriots when Wilfork was drafted and was impressed with him as a rookie. After watching him develop over his career, Crennel knew he'd be a great addition in Houston.
"One of the reasons that we wanted him was because we knew what kind of football player he was, but we also felt like he would be a great leader and help the guys in the locker room and help us grow as a team and he is providing what we anticipated that he would provide," Crennel said.
Wilfork was asked if he might be able to provide some insight for the Texans into how to slow down Tom Brady since he faced him in practice for more than a decade.
"My whole 11 years there I always tried to figure out and see what I can take from him that can give me and edge and there's nothing there," Wilfork said. "He covers all bases. He's hard to prepare for because he does things that guys don't even think about doing. So we have to be on top of our game."
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