FOXBOROUGH — Big Vince Wilfork was a force to be reckoned with during his playing days, which stretched from 2004-16.
Slimmed-down Vince Wilfork delivered a message about his playing days shortly after slipping on his new, red Patriots Hall of Fame blazer: They’re over.
“I thought I would never say this because I was one of those players who would say, ‘No matter how old I get, I can play football.’ That was my mind-set. But I’m here to tell you, I can’t play. I’m officially retired from football — officially,’’ the two-time Super Bowl champion said with a wide smile Thursday. “So, don’t ask me to get in my stance, don’t ask me to do this or that, the answer is no. Don’t ask me do I have one play in me, no. I’m just here for looks now.’’
Wilfork played 11 of his 13 seasons in New England on the interior of the defensive line, and he will officially become the 32d member of the exclusive group during a ceremony Saturday afternoon outside the franchise’s Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium.
Wilfork, who said, “Boston will always be home,” thanked the city, the Patriots, and particularly Bill Belichick. He was proud to learn the coach still uses film of him as a teaching tool.
“It means that I left a positive image on the game. When you have the greatest coach of all time that can pull up film of you when you were a rookie, a second- or third-year, whatever it is he’s pulling up, and he can teach off of that, that let me know that I’ve done something good. And the only reason I’ve done something good is because of the coaches that I’ve had,’’ said Wilfork, down approximately 50 pounds from his playing days as a 325-pounder. “They taught me very, very well what it was like to be a professional. What it’s like to play technique and don’t just rely on just your size. And little, small things.
“A lot of credit goes to Bill Belichick when it comes to winning football. Because, here I am, coming out of the University of Miami, I know what it’s like to win. I know that. But playing a game and understanding the game inside of the game, Bill taught me that.’’
Wilfork counts the 2011 AFC Championship game against Baltimore as one of his fondest memories. He was a wrecking ball in that one, registering six tackles, a sack, three tackles for losses, and five hurries in the 23-20 win.
It’s a jam-packed week for Wilfork — he’ll be recognized at halftime of Sunday’s home opener — but he’s hoping to catch up with Belichick and maybe address the team on Friday ahead of what he calls a “rivalry game” against the Ravens.
“That’s what I want to do because I think it’s important not only for me, but for the players to understand. Even though I’ve been gone from the game for a while, sometimes it’s good hear somebody else say something other than a coach always saying it,’’ he said. “Anytime Bill can have somebody who played under him to come back and kind of give some knowledge and speak some wisdom, I think players take it differently.
“So, it might click on them like, ‘Dang, Bill just told me that last week, and here’s Vince telling me the same thing.’ It kind of puts you in a different mind-set.”
All accounted for
The Patriots had all hands on deck for Thursday’s soggy practice, with all 53 members of the active roster present for at least a portion of the shells and sweats session.
For the second straight day, receiver Jakobi Meyers (knee) and safety Kyle Dugger (knee) were present for stretching but officially listed as DNPs. Cornerback Jalen Mills was a new addition to the report as he was limited with a hamstring ailment.
Also limited were safeties Adrian Phillips (ribs) and Joshuah Bledsoe (groin); linebacker Raekwon McMillan (thumb); defensive linemen Davon Godchaux (back) and DaMarcus Mitchell (knee); and special teamer Cody Davis (calf).
For the Ravens, quarterback Lamar Jackson was a full participant after not throwing at Wednesday’s practice.
Keeping up with Jones
Mac Jones needs 11 passing yards against the Ravens to move past Hugh Millen (4,276 yards) for seventh place in franchise history. There’s a big jump to the sixth spot, which is held by Jim Plunkett (9,932) … With a 100-yard effort against the Ravens, Nelson Agholor would be the first Patriot with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Julian Edelman in 2019 … Matthew Slater is poised to play in his 102d career game at Gillette, which will break a tie for second place all time with Stephen Gostkowski. Tom Brady (134) holds the top spot.