FOXBORO, Mass. — Vince Wilfork is the epitome of what any coach is looking for in a defensive lineman, and Marcus Forston is hoping to follow his lead.
Forston is in the middle of his second training camp with the Patriots and in the mix to be Wilfork’s primary backup on the interior heading into the 2013 season. He knows that there is some tough competition for that spot and that he’s fighting for his place on the 53-man roster. So, he’s trying to utilize Wilfork’s tutelage as best he can.
“All the time. I’m probably with Vince four days out of the week,” Forston said after practice on Friday. “Either that’s here or at his house. It’s always about football when me and him are around. I’m always picking his brain.”
Wilfork is a five-time Pro Bowler and constant pariah for opposing offensive linemen, so Forston couldn’t be learning from a much better teacher. The 23-year-old is paying very close attention to Wilfork’s every move and trying to learn as much as he can.
“I learn everything, just as far as understanding the game and understanding the offense,” Forston said. “It’s never too much information, that’s something that [Wilfork] knows. He knows the offensive formation, he knows the sets, and he just knows the game, and I’m just trying to learn that.”
Forston was once a top high school recruit and expected to be a high-round draft pick, but injuries plagued his career at Miami and left him as nothing more than a draft afterthought. He impressed during the spring and summer in 2012, making the Patriots’ 53-man roster out of camp before being released three weeks into the season and winding up on the practice squad.
Most guys might be disheartened by such a demotion, but Forston actually embraced his place on the practice squad and used it as an opportunity to work harder and improve himself.
“I learned so much going up against guys every day like Logan Mankins, [Ryan] Wendell and Dan Connolly,” Forston said. “I learned from those guys, going up against those guys, giving them a good look week in and week out. I feel like I got better. It was one of the best things that happened to me.”
Now, Forston is relying on that experience to make an impact in practice and carve out a place for him on the Patriots’ defense. Although, he knows there is still a lot of work left to do.
“I think I’m improving right now as far as what coach Bill [Belichick] and what my coach told me to do in the offseason, what I need to work on, and I feel like I attacked those things,” Forston said. “Right now, I’m just trying to get better every day. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m just trying to talk about it and do it the way the Patriots want it to be done.”
Based on how he’s looked in practice so far, Forston is doing just what Belichick and the coaching staff were hoping. If that continues, he should have no problem when final cuts roll around on Sept. 1.