When we last saw Vince Wilfork, the Patriots nose tackle was tossing his helmet in disgust as he limped to the sidelines with a foot injury against the Carolina Panthers.
With nearly a month to recover, Wilfork was back at practice today. Afterward, a reporter asked him if the layoff, and his expected return against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend, has given him a little more giddy-up.
"Hahaha … giddy-up. I like that word, giddy-up," a light-hearted Wilfork laughed in reply.
He got serious, though, when asked about how he feels and what he thinks his chances are of getting back in the lineup on Sunday.
"Pretty good … Feelin' pretty good. Best I can be. I'll do everything in my willpower to be out there Sunday. You take it day by day and try to get better. Hopefully, by Sunday, it's good enough that you can go. That's how I approach it."
Wilfork was also asked if he could have played in any of the Patriots final regular season games that he missed.
"There's being smart and stupid. That's one thing I didn't want to be is stupid," he explained. "So, I got with the training staff and the coaches and made those decisions. We made the decision that was best for the team.
"Sometimes I don't like those decisions," he added with a smile. "I love to play, but like I said, you have to be smart about things."
Wilfork was in action back in Week 4, when the Patriots hosted the Ravens in the regular season. That first encounter may help, to a certain extent, he said, with New England's preparations for the Wild Card rematch at Gillette.
"I think it's a new season right now. You watch film throughout the whole year and you make your preparations off of that. Teams have their bad plays and their good plays. I'm pretty sure their bad plays, we won' see. Pretty sure their good plays, we'll see again. I'm pretty sure we'll see some plays they haven't used that they're gonna show. We have to make sure we do a good job of making adjustments when it comes down to it.
"They're gonna do what they do," Wilfork continued. "It's not like they're going to line up and give us 150 things they haven't run all year and all of a sudden in the post-season, they do it. It's not like that. We know what we have to do to be successful. And that starts in practice. I think we had a good one today, putting in some stuff, watching the films and making corrections, and move forward tomorrow."
A Wilfork return, coupled with Ty Warrengetting back on the field, is a must for the Patriots defense, which must stop the potent Baltimore backfield combination of Pro Bowl running back Ray Riceand backup Willis McGahee.
"We always want to make a team one-dimensional. We want to stop the run first," Wilfork observed. "We've done it at times this year, other times we haven't. We have to do a really good job with that. It all comes with preparation. They're making big runs, their offensive line is mauling people … we know we're going to get their best."
Wednesday practice/locker room notebook
Left tackle Matt Lightspent a few minutes talking with the media for the first time in a long while. Among other topics, he responded to his quarterback, Tom Brady, winning the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award. Brady was named to the Pro Bowl this season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last fall.
"Obviously he overcame some pretty big odds and it's a good thing for us to have him back out there," Light said. "But I don't think anybody had any doubt on what he was going to do and his ability. So, way to go, Tom."
Count LB Adalius Thomasamong those who aren't taking New England's playoff appearance for granted.
"You never know when you'll ever get a chance to do it again," he reasoned. "It's amazing that you kind of take it for granted when you go for the first five years of your career then you can take it for granted. But then you have some guys that have never been and they've been in the league six or seven years and this is their first time going to the playoffs, then it becomes a humbling experience. You definitely have to take advantage of the opportunity whenever you have the chance to go out there and play in the playoffs. It's win or go home."
The Patriots made several roster moves today, sending WR Wes Welkerto IR and elevating LB Thomas Williamsto the 53-man. With Welker out for the remainder of the post-season, New England also placed receiver Darnell Jenkinson the practice squad/injured reserve list with an ankle injury and added two receivers to the practice squad: Robert Ortiz, who's been with the team on several occasions, and Nick Moore, whose brother, Lance, is a Saints wideout.
Every Patriot except OL Dan Connolly, who injured an ankle against Houston, took part fully in practice today. The Wednesday workout was held on the Gillette Stadium game surface, with players wearing helmets, shells, and sweats.