- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATLANTA -- When building a house, nothing really matters if the foundation isn't sturdy.
When considering what Vince Wilfork means to the New England Patriots -- in light of Shalise Manza-Young's report in the Boston Globe that Wilfork has a torn Achilles and is almost certainly out for the season -- think of a house's foundation.
He's the sturdy guy in the middle, the 6-foot-2, 325-pound mountain of a man with uncommon athleticism whose stats don't always reflect his impact.
Losing him puts the Patriots on shaky ground.
Because foundation players are rare, expect the Patriots to rely on multiple players to attempt to fill the void. There is no one replacement. Right now, it's veteran Tommy Kelly and rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones at defensive tackle. It's unclear if Armond Armstead might return to health and be an option when he's eligible to come off the reserve/non-football illnes list.
We've seen Wilfork's impact only grow in recent years. Consider his playing-time stats:
2009: 51.8 percent
2010: 69.8 percent
2011: 86.8 percent
2012: 81.3 percent
The Patriots have overcome injuries to key players in the past, so this isn't anything new to them. But Wilfork's injury ranks as one of the most significant, and one of the toughest voids to fill.