Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium, on Wednesday, December 29, 2010.
VW: How's everybody doing? Well, first and foremost, the Pro Bowl is an honor. To be nominated [as] one of the best in the National Football League, I'm very honored. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about my teammates who made it. So with that being said, we're looking forward to the Dolphins this week now. That's where we're at on that one.
Q: Have you had a chance to reflect on what you have gone through as a team over the past 12 months?
VW: No, we take it one game at a time. From personal goals to individual to team goals, I think that's the best way to do it. If you could just keep it that simple, you could probably manage everything that you do. Our goal is to just keep getting better as a team and put together a good football effort against the Miami Dolphins this week and leave this one with a "W." They're coming up here in a divisional game. They're coming up here. I'm pretty sure they're riding high. I know they want to end their season with a win and we want to win, so it doesn't get any better than this. We don't look at any records. It's all about one team and the Miami Dolphins playing the New England Patriots. That's what it is going to boil down to.
Q: With people talking the way they are about the Patriots defense and then you and three other defensive players are named to the Pro Bowl, you guys are showing how good you are.
VW: Yeah, like I said, I'm proud of everyone. There're a bunch of guys in here that easily could have been a Pro Bowler, but there're only so many you can pick. But, I'm definitely proud of the guys who made it: Jerod [Mayo], Devin [McCourty] and [Brandon] Meriweather, [and] Tom [Brady] and [Logan] Mankins on offense. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we're very proud of this team, not just those individuals who have been named Pro Bowlers. As a team, we're very, very honored to be in the position to do some good things. We'll continue this week against the Dolphins. That's one thing we can do: continue to get better as a team and kind of put the Pro Bowl behind us for now.
Q: There is talk about the pros and cons of resting starters this weekend. From a starter's view point, is this a game that you want to play?
VW: Of course. Oh yeah, I want to play football. Especially this time of year, I think the more games you play ... the more consistent you can be. That's where I stand. I want to play every game I can, crunch time. I think anybody who loves the game would want to be playing right now and I'm one of [those] guys. There are a bunch of guys in this locker room that want to play and want to win, so hopefully we can continue that this week.
Q: Jerod Mayo has had a tremendous year with his tackling. How much of his success and the defense's success is complementary?
VW: A bunch of it, a lot of it, mostly all of it is. I think he's probably one of the best at what he does. I mean, he's young. He's very talented. He has the brains. He can run. He can tackle. He's physical. He's big. He's strong. The list goes on about the guy and he's a great guy, outside of football. So, I'm glad he's a teammate of mine. There are a bunch of guys on this team that are like that, but I'm very fortunate to play with a young guy like that whose got his head on straight on and off the field. That's a very, very positive message around the league – when you have guys like that. But, we help each other on the field. We help each other. Things [that] I do help him on the back end [and] things he does help me on the front end. One hand washes the other out there on Sundays.
Q: You can see you and Mayo communicating a lot with one another as your coming off the field. Did you guys work on that type of communication in training camp?
VW: Yeah, that's something that we have to make sure that we're on top of: communication. I think when we do have breakdowns, that's where they start at, with communication. I think, for myself and other guys on this team, defensively, we recognized that was a problem. Mayo, he's grown into a great leader. He listens. He gives his opinion. I listen, and I think we both help each other. At times you'll see us out there and you may think we're arguing [but] we're talking. And at times you may see us smiling a lot. We always want to talk. Communication is a big, big part of what we do around here and being successful. The more communication we do, it helps us in the long run. All year, that's been kind of a trademark of us: [making] sure the communication is where it needs to be. I think that starts with myself and Jerod when it comes down to certain situations because he is the quarterback of our defense. He is the man when he's on the field.
Q: Brandon Meriweather also talked about communication and thinks that is where he has shown the most improvement this year. Can you comment on that?
VW: Yes, I agree. I just [mentioned] myself and Mayo, but Brandon and James Sanders, the secondary, I definitely can't leave those guys out. I mean, those guys, they've really got it together. A lot of people doubted those guys. We never doubted one another. In training camp, all the way back to OTAs, we kind of knew we had something special, but we had to make it that way. We can't have guys on the field just out there doing their own thing or guessing and not getting the communication. I think that's one thing we hit from the get-go, is [that] we're going to be a better communicating defense. We need to talk. We don't care if the offense knows what we're doing or what we're seeing, we need to know what we're doing. A lot of us, we have to talk. As a defense, you hear a lot of communication. You see a lot of movements. You see a lot of hand signals. You see a lot of stuff going on on Sundays out there. That's all part of preparation and getting one another on the same playing field. So, hats off to all those guys. We're going to need to continue that, especially this week against the Dolphins team that causes a lot of problems with some personnel they put in. We're going to have to mind our 'p's and 'q's this week [with a] division game, playing home [and] Miami being a very good on-the-road team. We know they're going to be pumped to try and get a 'W' their last game of the season and our goal is to get a 'W.' So, we're going to work our tails off to get it.
Q: When you look at what you've accomplished as a team, how much are you saying to the rookies, "Look, it's just beginning?"
VW: Well, I think we've kind of put all that on the back burner right now because our focus is the Dolphins. I know we have the Pro Bowl selection that came out yesterday, I understand that. Like I said, I'm very honored with that and the guys in this locker room are honored and all that. But at the end of the day, we do have a game to play on Sunday and our main focus is getting back on track and is getting back to the Miami Dolphins. We need to win Sunday. Like I said, they're not just going to walk out here and hand us a 'W.' We're going to have to work for it. We understand that. It seems like every year, we're splitting with these guys. If we win down there, they come back and beat us here. If we win here, we go down there and they beat us there. For once, it would feel pretty good if we can put it together and sweep them. It's going to be very, very, very tough. We have our hands full. We do have our hands full. The message to all of us is to stay focused. A lot of things are going on, but the big picture here is the Miami Dolphins.
Q: Are you in awe a little bit of what this team has done since the Randy Moss trade? It seems like since that time, the team hit the fast forward button.
VW: Business is business. You have things happen during the course of the season, the beginning of the season, the offseason; teams make a lot of moves. Sometimes you'll be surprised by some of them. Sometimes you'll see it coming. But, your job is to keep the ball moving. No matter what's going on around you, the ball needs to continue to roll. I think that was one thing for us: no matter what situation we were in as an organization or as a team at the time, the ball continued to roll and I think the team rolled with it. Guys come in and out of this league and on and off this team, but at the end of the day, like I said, the ball's going to continue to roll. I think that, for the most part, we handled it well – the distractions, we handled pretty well. So, we're going to need to continue to do that going forward, especially this week with everything with the playoffs, now Pro Bowl and everything. So, we need to find a way to get back on track. And the best way we can get back on track is going to practice and getting prepared for the Miami Dolphins football team and we started that today.
Q: You were a captain last year, but what's been different this year? What's been the most rewarding part of being a captain of this 2010 team?
VW: You have a bunch of guys that give it their all. You have a bunch of guys that love this game. You have a bunch of guys that respect one another, that have trust with one another on this field. When we take the field, I think we prepare well. I think we prepare very well. We try not to compare teams... We can't compare this [2010 season team] to '04, '07, '01, '02, whatever it may be, we can't compare it to any of those because it's a whole different team. We're built different. Guys that were here, aren't here. So, so far, so good. I think guys study their tails off. They work hard every day. They just keep grinding and that's the special thing about this team is that no matter what happens, we find a way to keep going forward, keep going forward. No matter what's going on around us, we always find a way to keep going forward. So, we're going to need to continue that, especially this week. It's easy to get sidetracked for playing this game, but our job is to not allow that to happen and we're going to do our best not to.
Q: You want to win, but with what happened to Wes Welker last season, does that make you hesitant to want to go out there this weekend?
VW: No, not at all. I don't think twice about going in the last game of preseason [or] the middle of the season game. I couldn't care less when I play. When I play, I play. If it's meant for somebody to get injured, you get injured. You could easily get injured off the field. So, that's something I don't worry about.
Q: How much does this Pro Bowl selection mean to you?
VW: It's pretty good. Like I said, I'm very proud of everyone who made it. There're a couple of guys that probably could have been named also, but you have to pick only so many people. But, I'm proud of the guys. They're happy; they need to be happy. [In] this NFL, as an individual, I think everyone who plays the game wants to be recognized at some point in their career and this is a great start for some of those guys. I think I'm more proud of them than they are of themselves. Just being able to play with these guys is amazing because I know I get their all out there and they expect the same from me. So, I'm very proud, but at the same time, they understand that we need to get back on track with the Dolphins this weekend. That's what we'll do.