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Other than Brady, Pats can't go without ...

Posted by Albert Breer  August 25, 2010 04:39 PM

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ESPN.com is running a preseason series now that assesses what player on each team, outside of the quarterback, is most "indispensable".

And for New England, it is ... NT Vince Wilfork (My take? Agreed.). The big fella is locked up and here through 2014, and here's ESPN AFC East man Tim Graham's take on why that's a really good thing:

Based on the way the Patriots' offense sputtered without Wes Welker in the playoffs last year, he'd be a good choice. Or you could go with the transcendent abilities of Randy Moss. But the Patriots have an emerging group of young receivers, and Brady won three Super Bowls with a hodgepodge of targets.

That's why nose tackle Vince Wilfork is the Patriots' most indispensable non-quarterback. Wilfork is, by far, their most important defensive player. He absorbs multiple blockers on any given play, allowing the players around him to make plays. Remove him from the field, and the Patriots' defense gets pretty ordinary.
Jake Long was the Miami pick by Graham, and Lee Evans was the choice for Buffalo. The Jets? A little surprising in that it wasn't Darrelle Revis. Graham singled out D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
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