FOXBORO, Mass. — Sealver Siliga showed his dedication to the New England Patriots as one of many who played through injuries on the way to a Super Bowl XLIX victory.
Siliga initially injured his foot in September and landed on short-term injured reserve. After sitting for 10 weeks, he was back on the field for the Patriots’ final four regular-season games and three playoff victories. The injury still required offseason surgery, proving no player is truly healthy late in the season, but he was back on the practice field Thursday after missing organized team activities and minicamp.
“I’m feeling great,” Siliga said Friday after practice. “It’s one of those times where I can only control what I can control, so (injuries are) not one of them, but I can control how hard I work, when I get on the field how hard I work and how I can execute my assignments.”
Siliga is expected to take on a greater role this season after Vince Wilfork departed in free agency. Siliga is a projected starter, while Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Dominique Easley, Antonio Johnson, Chris Jones, Zach Moore, Vince Taylor and Joe Vellano are competing for the other inside roles.
Siliga is happy to have some new faces around him.
“I’m excited to have Malcom here,” Siliga said. “He has a good niche on him. I’ve played in the league long enough to understand that every year is a battle. You’re never set in stone unless your name is Vince. I’m not Vince. I’ve got to put my nose down and work to the bone.”
Siliga bounced around the NFL for his two and-a-half seasons before catching on with the Patriots, first as a practice-squad player and then on the active roster late in 2013, when we almost immediately became a starter. Suddenly, he finds himself as one of the most experienced players on the Patriots’ interior D-line.
“It’s a little different from the point where I came from, but it’s part of the league,” Siliga said. “You gotta adjust. If you don’t adjust, you don’t work.”
Siliga, who spent the summer in Foxboro “just because I love it here,” also enjoys the insurance the Patriots’ starting linebackers provide the defensive line. Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo and Jamie Collins make up perhaps the most talented starting linebacker corps in the NFL, which Siliga said allows the defensive line to be more aggressive.
“Those guys are just freaks, all athletes,” Siliga said. “They can come down if they want and put their hand in the dirt. And then they go back, and they guide us. They lead us everywhere. They’re great leaders.
“One thing I understand going into game day is I know they got my back. I know if I get cut out on my gap, they’ll save me. And that’s vice versa. If they get cut up, they know we have their back. That’s the great thing about our linebackers is they go out there, they work hard every day, they’re a bunch of clowns, but I know when it comes down to it, they’ll go down to the bone for us.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images