The New England Patriots’ impressive 30-23 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night came at a price.
All-Pro defensive tackle Vince Wilfork hurt his foot in the first quarter and did not return to the game. We learned on Monday that he will reportedly miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles. As a player who is so important to the team’s run defense and brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the field, replacing Wilfork will be one of head coach Bill Belichick‘s toughest challenges of the season.
In Wilfork’s absence, other defensive linemen will have to raise their performance and play a larger role in the unit’s success. This list includes offseason signing Tommy Kelly, rookie Joe Vellano, veteran Rob Ninkovich and 2012 first-round pick Chandler Jones.