Patriots still relying heavily on Vince Wilfork

When the Patriots restructured the contract of Vince Wilfork in March, they secured him for this season with an option for two more seasons. The 32-year-old Wilfork has been a mainstay of the New England defense for 11 seasons and figures to be for the foreseeable future as well. That he missed all but four games with a torn Achilles’ tendon last season suggested that they might ease his workload this season.

But that doesn’t mean the Patriots are easing off on their use of their 325-pound nose tackle.

Wilfork has played 78 percent of snaps this season, sixth-most on the New England defensive line. Darrelle Revis (92.2 percent), Rob Ninkovich (89.1 percent), Devin McCourty (88.1 percent), Jerod Mayo (86 percent) and Chandler Jones (84.2 percent) are the only defenders who have seen more time on the field than Wilfork — and Mayo is out for the season with a knee injury.

Last Thursday against the New York Jets, Wilfork was on the field for 64 of 69 defensive snaps — and eight more special-teams snaps. He saw more total snaps than any other New England defensive lineman or linebacker.

“Vince is a tremendous leader for us,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said in a conference call on Monday. “He does a great job every day with his approach to the game both through practice, through meetings and then obviously on game day. He’s a tremendous leader that our players can look up to, just really a hard-working individual that brings his lunch pail to work every day as far as getting in there and grinding it out and really trying to understand what our opponents are doing.

“Obviously, we look to him in that capacity from a very strong leadership aspect. For anything that we do on defense here as a team, we’re just trying to put the best players out there in the best position possible to win the game.”

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