As the New England Patriots prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, a welcomed sight on the defense will be the return of five-time Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork. The 32-year-old defensive tackle will be returning from a season-ending Achilles injury and will be out to prove that he can be a force on the field again. According to a report by Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald Thursday, Wilfork is mainly out gain trust from his teammates. That is the only thing he will be out to prove as he aims to be just as effective as he was before the injury.
He said, “I just have to prove I can come out and give my team what they need. That’s what I have to prove. Me as a person, I’ve never been a selfish player. I was a team player. If I wanted to be selfish, I could have been a shot putter. I’ve done that. I was a state champion shot putter, but it wasn’t my thing. My thing was to be with teammates, a good group of guys, and we’re all working toward one goal and that’s to be able to win and push one another. That’s why I chose football.”
Wilfork wasn’t exactly dominant in the preseason but he only played a limited amount of snaps. His presence alone, however, could be just as effective for the Patriots defense as the big man will take up space and allow for other players along the defensive line and linebackers to take up space.
If nothing else, the Dolphins offensive line is still very much weary of Wilfork. Offensive lineman Samson Sateele has gone up against Wilfork many times as a member of the Indianapolis Colts and Dolphins and expects to have a battle on his hands despite Wilfork returning from an injury.
Satelle said, “I know he’s coming off an injury, so I know he’s going to be motivated to be back on the field plus he’s back in Miami, because he’s from here. It’s going to be his first game back, but I will be ready. I’m going to do what I know from this offense and work on my technique.”
If Wilfork isn’t able to be a force physically, his leadership could spark energy in the Patriots defense, especially from some of the younger players on the defensive line. He will definitely be a test for a Dolphins revamped offensive line. Whether he is a force in this particular game or not can only be answered on Sunday.