Atlanta fans booed Vince Wilfork when he fell with an injury on Sunday night, thinking perhaps the Patriots' trustworthy defensive tackle was acting to slow the Falcons' offense. The Patriots would have preferred such deviousness to what actually occurred.
Wilfork had to be carted from the Patriots' sideline to the locker room during his team's win. On Monday, Bill Belichick confirmed that the injury was a torn right Achilles and that Wilfork is likely to miss the rest of the season. News of the injury was first reported by The Boston Globe.
A Pro Bowler five times over and for each of the past four seasons, Wilfork has been a centerpiece on New England's defensive line for a decade. He has rarely missed action since being drafted by the Pats in 2004, either -- Wilfork played all 16 games in 2010, '11 and '12, and has missed a grand total of six games in his career. He'll likely add another 12 to that total this season.
Undrafted rookie Joe Vellano filled in for Wilfork Sunday night, following the latter's first-quarter injury. Vellano recorded three tackles plus one sack of Matt Ryan in Wilfork's absence. He or another rookie, Bowling Green's Chris Jones, may battle to take Wilfork's snaps from here out.
New England also may look outside the organization for help, with 33-year-old Richard Seymour, a Patriot from 2001-08, one of the players available on the free-agent market. Seymour played eight games for the Raiders last season, his fourth with Oakland. He is just two years removed from his seventh Pro Bowl bid, though he clearly is in the final stages of his career -- if he's not ready to call it quits already. The Patriots also hope to get Armond Armstead into the rotation at some point. Armstead had a heart attack while at USC in 2011, then played in the CFL before signing with New England. He's currently on the Non-Football Injury/Illness List.