Wilfork ready for young Pats to step forward

There's a changing of the leadership guard going on with the Patriots as the old give way to the new, and Vince Wilfork thinks it's going well.

As he should. Because he's never had a problem with young players stepping forward.

"As far as being a leader, I considered myself one of the leaders when I first [got to New England] at a young age," the Patriots' nose tackle told Andy Gresh Monday during an appearance on Sports Tonight. "I think a lot of people have a problem with so many young leaders that we have now just because . . . they're [in] their second, third, fourth year . . . People [are] so used to seeing the old veterans around like the Willie McGinests, the [Tedy] Bruschis, the [Mike] Vrables, Rodney Harrison, those were old leaders that we had that knew the game.

"[But] I think Jerod Mayo is coming [into] his own, going to be a great leader for us. I think [Brandon] Meriweather is playing to a level where he understands he has to step [forward] and be a leader for us. I think Leigh Bodden [now understands] how we do things. So I think everybody's on board now; [they] know what we expect out of each other."

And he believes the Pats will regain the focus they sometimes seemed to lack in 2009.

"I think everybody's going to take it on themselves to actually sit down, with this whole offseason going into mini-camps and training camps, and actually get on the same level, same focus," he said. "Because at the end of the day, we all have to play. Coaches coach, players play and I think if we go out and take that approach, I think we'll be in good shape."

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