Patriots Match-Up Mania: The Replacements

Can Vince Wilfork really be replaced?

Can Vince Wilfork really be replaced?

Any NFL season could accurately be described as a war of attrition. No team’s roster will look the same in November than it does in September as injuries add up in the physical game of football.

Attrition is a fact of life for your New England Patriots as we head into a Week 5 clash with Cincinnati.

Rob Gronkowski , Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola aren’t new to the team’s corps of walking wounded. The previously indestructible Vince Wilfork was felled last week, and had season-ending surgery on Thursday. Now, Stevan Ridley is out Sunday, too.

Training camp sensation Zach Sudfeld, who memorably botched an attempt to fetch an onside kick against Atlanta, was waived in yet another roster move.

Match-ups involving missing Pats players and their Bengals opponents are crucial on Sunday.

Wilfork’s Acchiles injury and subsequent season ending surgery is the biggest blow to the team that has relied on him for all but 6 games since 2004. How Bill Belichick replaces him is now the primary defensive concern. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia explained this as any Belichick staffer would:

Certainly injuries are an unfortunate part of the game of football, but that is what it is, and we’re obviously going to expect whoever’s out on the field to perform to the highest level of their ability. But Vince is certainly someone who we rely on week in, week out to really attack each opponent at a very professional level.

I think Patricia is talking to you, Joe Vellano. Other line starters Tommy Kelly, or even Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, will be called upon to step their games up to try to replace Big Vince. Fortunately, Belichick has more to work with with a much-improved defense.

Whoever plays has to be ready for a speedy offensive attack.

Replacing Sudfeld – does he look good in green? – should be easier, even if Austin Collie doesn’t play. Don’t assume Sudfeld’s status is a sign that Cincy will get Gronk’d. Don’t bet on Amendola, either. Don’t bet on anyone playing on offense beyond Tom Brady.

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