Wilfork goes to bat for Burgess

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- When veteran outside linebacker/rush defensive end Derrick Burgess returned to the Patriots on Friday, one question was how he would be received by his teammates. Would teammates possibly look at him as skipping out on the hard work?

Not at all, according to defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.

"Most of all, he loves what he does. He loves this game," Wilfork said this morning after the team's joint practice with the Falcons. "He gives it his all out here. I’m happy he’s back out there. I’m happy he’s my teammate. He brings what we need to this team, a love for the game, and that’s what we need."

Asked to elaborate, Wilfork went on.

"If you can pick one guy out, aside from myself, that loves this game ... he’d definitely be one of them," he said. "He loves to step on this field and go to work.

"That’s another guy who had to make a transition to this defense. It was a work in progress for him last year. He’s back. And he’s stepping right in and he’s doing whatever he can to help this ball club. He’s a hell of a ballplayer. I’m happy he’s back with us. He’s happy he’s back with us. And he made it very clear that he’s happy he’s back with us. So we have no [hard feelings] for him. He’s family. That’s family. And we are ready to work. We’re just excited about the season."