Thursday, October 3, 2013

With Wilfork on IR, Vellano to help 'pick up slack'


New England Patriots undrafted rookie Joe Vellano has been tasked with helping fill the massive void left by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday.

Someone has to do it.

"You go into every week, you prepare as best you can like you're going to play," Vellano said Thursday, via "We do a great job here and everybody's getting coached up for every situation. You just go out there and make the best of it. You never know what's going to happen."

Vellano recorded a sack Monday night after Wilfork, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, left the field with a torn Achilles.

The first-year rookie out of Maryland has 10 tackles in four games of spot time, and his snap count has increased in each of the last three games. That trend will continue as the Patriots continue to plug him in next to veteran Tommy Kelly on the interior of the defensive line.

"Everyone has to pick up the slack a little bit more," Vellano said. "That's the biggest thing on defense. If you've got a good vibe with the other guys, everyone picks each other up and everybody's not gonna be perfect on every play so you just gotta rally to the ball.

"I think the most important thing is you've gotta gain the trust of the guys you're playing with. You gotta feel comfortable out there with them."

Vellano and the Patriots hit the road Sunday to take on the Cincinnati Bengals.

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