<
>

Vince Wilfork: Patriots feed off Tom Brady's competitiveness

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is ready to follow quarterback Tom Brady into battle in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brady’s competitive nature in every aspect of preparation carries right into games, which makes it easy for his teammates to elevate their level of play for their leader, according to Wilfork.

“Everything he does he wants it to be perfect,” Wilfork said during his news conference on Wednesday. “He strives for greatness. That’s your leader. That’s what you want to follow -- somebody that’s always going to strive to be great at whatever he does.”

The main driver for Brady is his competitiveness, which everyone is familiar with after 15 seasons in the NFL.

“He is so competitive. That’s the first thing I always see,” Wilfork said. “And everybody always asks me, ‘How is Tom?’ I don’t think there’s anybody else in this locker room that is more competitive than Tom.

“I mean, I don’t care if it’s a conversation, I don’t care if it’s practice, I don’t care if it’s 7-on-7, I don’t care if it’s game day, I don’t care if it’s in the film room. He wants to be at his best.

“He wants everybody else around him to be at his best, so as a teammate it’s easy to see my top leader coming to work, smiling, having fun and being at his best in the practice.”

As the second-longest tenured player on the Patriots behind Brady, Wilfork has become used to Brady’s intensity and tries to teach the younger players that Brady is always living and breathing football for one reason: winning.

“He demands [us to be at our best], so I think a lot of the things he does he doesn’t realize how it affects everyone around him,” Wilfork said. “He doesn’t have to say much. When he’s here in this building, he’s working. When he’s home, he’s working. A lot of the guys don’t understand that. That’s the type of person that he is.

“He’s going to give you everything he has. I mean, I don’t care how he’s feeling -- mentally or physically -- he’s going to put his best on that field and you have to love that. You have to respect that. And that’s what I love and respect about Tom.”

Wilfork also noted that he and Brady talk smack with each other to make practices seem as competitive as games.

“I mean, he always comes to work and trust me, we trash talk a lot in practice. I’m in his ear and he’s in my ear, but at the same time we make practice live and we make practice competitive because we try to get it as close to a game [atmosphere] as possible,” Wilfork said. “And I think the only way to do that is to have some of your guys go out there and make practice upbeat.”

While Wilfork plays with one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Brady, he also offered some high praise for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

“Luck is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the game,” Wilfork said. “He’s a young stud. And you’ll be seeing a lot of more of him in his future.”