The stat sheet does not tell the entire story which is certainly the case for Houston Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Despite a subpar first season after signing a two-year contract with the Texans last offseason, Wilfork has shown over offseason and past two weeks that he is checked in for 2016. A disruptive force, Wilfork is back to his old ways of wreaking havoc in the backfield and handling centers at the point of attack. Wilfork’s job is not glamorous but he is clearing the way not only for himself to make plays, but clearing teammates paths to the football, most notably inside linebackers Benardick McKinney and Max Bullough.
“He’s played well,” said Bill O’Brien of his starting nose tackle. “He played well against Kansas City, played well against Chicago.”
The biggest difference for Wilfork has been his overall conditioning and ability to move like he did back when he was with the New England Patriots. Despite his size, Wilfork has dropped weight after a discussion at the end of last season in which it was determined that he needed to come back in better shape than he had during his first season with the Texans.
That talk has had a big effect on Wilfork's early production on the field. Helping the Texans become a top three defense to start the season, Wilfork is a linchpin once again in the middle of the defense.
‘I know that this year he was ready to go as far as conditioning. He came back and he really did a really nice job on the conditioning test. That’s not easy,” explained O’Brien of Wilfork. “Last year was his first time in Houston, in that heat. I’m sure he was ready to go for that this year. I think that showed our team that there you have a guy that’s a 12-, 13-year veteran that understands the importance of that. For that reason alone, I think it’s helped him play pretty well here in the beginning.”
Of his former star nose guard, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said, "Yeah, they play him primarily on the nose and he's obviously a stout guy, a very experienced player, very good at recognizing schemes. You don't fool him on much. He has seen it all. He has got good playing strength. He's a tough guy to move in there, a tough guy to block."
Wilflork returns to Foxboro this week, marking his first return to the place he spent 11 seasons, en route to becoming one of the best ever to play the position.