- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH – Five quick hits from Vince Wilfork’s chat with reporters this morning at Gillette Stadium:
Welcoming new teammate Damione Lewis. Wilfork smiled when noting that Lewis, like himself, is an alumnus of the University of Miami. He said players like Lewis helped create the Hurricanes' reputation for strong defensive linemen, which is one reason he wanted to attend Miami. As for the big change facing Lewis in New England, Wilfork said it will be adjusting to two-gapping because Lewis has been a one-gap player throughout most of his NFL career. “His style of play is a little different from ours, but he’ll get it together,” Wilfork said.
Boosting Ron Brace. Wilfork was asked if he takes a player like Brace under his wing after a challenging rookie season. He said he wants to be a player anyone can turn to. As for Brace, he said: “I think Ron is a doing good job with the offseason program, trying to watch film and everything. Last year, he got a taste of the NFL and as a rookie, it’s tough at times. … We’re expecting big things from him.”
Optimism is in the air. “Last year was a tough year for us. We went through it and I hope that was the worst part, going through last year,” he said. “Every year, at this time of year, I’m very excited to get back. We never say we’re excited to work out but we’re excited to work out. I think everybody just feels that everybody’s leadership has to step up and we have to be ready to play this year.”
Advice to front office in draft. Wilfork was quick with a reply when asked what he’d like to see the Patriots select in the draft. “D-linemen,” he said, laughing. “I’m biased. I want all our picks, first of all, to be defensive players. And second of all, I want them to be on the defensive line.” Wilfork also joked that he’s been wrong every year when predicting which player the team will select in the first round. As for his pick this year, he joked that it was too early to reveal his choice.
Draft party supports good cause. This is the seventh year that Wilfork is holding his annual draft fundraiser, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at Pinz in Milford, Mass. Details can be found on Wilfork’s Web site, and Wilfork is matching up to $50,000 in donations. “It’s going to be a little different, with the draft on Thursday in prime-time,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s been seven years for me now. Over the years it’s grown and we’ve raised more and more money.”
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