So far this season, the New England Patriots haven't been called for many penalties.
It didn't take long, however, for them to draw their first yellow flag of the day this past Sunday against Buffalo – the first play from scrimmage, actually.
Pats DL Vince Wilfork was bearing down on Bills QB J.P. Losman when Wilfork was pulled down from behind by the lineman he'd just beaten. As the 325-pounder braced himself for the fall, he extended his arm, which ended up striking Losman's leg.
The officials flagged Wilfork for roughing the passer. Losman was slow getting up, and when he did, he displayed a noticeable limp.
Two plays later, Losman was sacked by Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs. That was it for Losman. He left the game and never returned.
Since that play, some football observers have questioned whether or not Wilfork's contact with Losman was intentional. If the NFL thinks so, Wilfork could face a further penalty, most likely in the form of a fine.
So far, Wilfork has heard nothing from the league office in New York.
"If it comes, I have to deal with it the best way I can," Wilfork said Thursday at his locker inside Gillette Stadium.
"I'll see what they say. I can only see what they say about it and move on."
Initially reticent about the play when reporters approached him, Wilfork eventually decided it was an opportunity to tell his side of the story.
He insists he had no intention of harming Losman.
"I got a million and one things going on in my mind," Wilfork explained. "You're tripping a 300-something-pounder … I have no idea what's going on. I don't know where my arm's at. It wasn't intentional …That's the main thing I want to get out.
"For anyone to think I'm a dirty player, or that that was a dirty blow," Wilfork continued, shaking his head, "not at all. I'm far from that. I've got too much love for the game, I've got too much respect for the game, for the players to be labeled a dirty player. That's why I play this game, because I love it.
"If you know me as a person, you'll understand that."
Wilfork is hoping Losman will understand as well. In fact, Wilfork is attempting to contact Losman to talk about the play.
"Oh yeah, of course, because, there's a player hurt, and I had something to do with it, so, I'm trying to get in touch with him.
"It's all good, though," he added. "I'm ready to play Monday."
One of the challenges Wilfork and his D-line mates will face in the upcoming game against Cincinnati is a Bengals offensive line that typically rotates eight players in and out. Wilfork was asked how difficult it is to prepare for so many different opponents.
"I don't think it's that difficult …We have film on all of them," he replied. "It's pretty smart what they do, just to keep them fresh."
Wilfork said he takes quick mental notes of the linemen as they approach the line of scrimmage just before the snap.
"Oh yeah, [I'm thinking] 'He's in the game and this is what he does. Of course, of course. We have to make sure we know who we're playing against. So, we have to understand what works against them."
Thursday Practice Notebook
All the Patriots active roster and practice squad players were on the field Thursday afternoon. It was a full-pads practice.
The team broke into positional groups to start. Of note, QBs and WRs were working together in one drill, while DBs concentrated on making interceptions in another.