FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Vince Wilfork was home.

He heard it, as fans stopped and greeted him Thursday morning all across Boston during his first return to New England since his playing days.

He saw it, scanning all of the memorabilia inside the Patriots Hall of Fame that afternoon, and the familiar stadium across the way.

He felt it, holding his red jacket for the first time before a throng of reporters and TV cameras on the Hall’s second level. Then Wilfork slipped the jacket on. He smiled.

“It fits.”

For the next 20 minutes, Wilfork bounced between past, present and future, recalling fond memories and explaining what his Saturday induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame will mean.


He said the jacket was for everyone else and their support, from teammates and coaches to family and fans. He described his old nose tackle position “as the grimiest there is,” one that never commanded publicity or commercials or put his name on posters. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to play football.

And he did for 13 seasons, including 11 in New England, where he became a two-time Super Bowl champion and a five-time Pro Bowler. Wilfork said he hadn’t met with Bill Belichick yet, but said he planned to see him Friday and hopefully speak to the team so he could pass on a little wisdom ahead of this weekend’s home opener against Baltimore.

“I don’t know yet, but that’s the goal because I love being around. I love showing my face,” Wilfork said. “Boston’s been great to me, the organization has been super wonderful, and Bill, he’s always, always been there for me. If I have a chance to get over there … it would make me happy, especially going against a team in the Ravens where we have a little rivalry there.”

Of all his great games, Wilfork singled out his performance against Baltimore in the 2012 AFC Championship as one he’s particularly proud of. Over a 23-20 Patriots win, he recorded a sack, six tackles, including three for loss, and several pressures as his defense stonewalled a power Ravens running game.

Belichick later called Wilfork the best nose tackle he’s ever coached.

But football, the 40-year-old says, is firmly behind him.


“Now that I’m done and stress-free, you have to find different things in life to keep me around,” Wilfork said. “My kids need me. My family needs me. I got good things to make sure I’m healthy and they can see Pops. And I can go to the football, basketball, baseball games. … This is the best I ever felt.”

After his 4 p.m. induction ceremony Saturday, when Wilfork says he will be speaking from the heart as he never writes speeches, he will be honored at halftime of Sunday’s home opener. It wasn’t lost on Wilfork, either, that his return coincided with the Ravens’ arrival.

Wilfork, who faced Baltimore 10 times in his career, hopes his words Friday can help push the Patriots past an old rival just one more time.

“Even though I’ve been gone from the game for a while, sometimes it’s good to hear somebody else say something other than a coach always saying it,” he explained. “Any time Bill can have somebody who played under him 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 mindset.”

•  On a rainy afternoon at Gillette Stadium, Jakobi Meyers and Kyle Dugger were both spotted during the stretching portion of practice.


The two key players were also present for the early portion on Wednesday, but were listed as “Did Not Participate” with knee injuries when the team’s practice report came out later. Meyers has been questionable in back-to-back weeks, and it would be a huge blow to the offense if he isn’t ready to go against the Ravens this weekend.

The only player from the 53-man roster who wasn’t spotted was Raekwon McMillan, but he may have been getting treatment. McMillan wasn’t seen at Wednesday’s practice either, but wasn’t listed on the injury report, so he was a full participant.

RAVENS: After wearing a protective sleeve over his right elbow during practice Wednesday, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was back to normal Thursday.

The right-handed Jackson threw without any apparent limitations during the half-hour period of practice open to reporters. He was listed as limited on Wednesday’s injury report after not throwing to receivers at practice, but he said he expected to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

BROWNS: A fan was arrested for allegedly throwing a plastic water bottle and hitting Browns owner Jimmy Haslam during the closing moments of Sunday’s 31-30 home loss to the New York Jets.

Cleveland police said Jeffrey Miller, 51, of Rocky River, was arrested on suspicion of assault, disorderly conduct and failure to comply. Miller was spotted by stadium video surveillance throwing the bottle and was followed with cameras.


After the Jets scored their go-ahead touchdown on a pass from Joe Flacco to rookie Garrett Wilson with 22 seconds left, Haslam was seen on a video walking toward an end zone tunnel in FirstEnergy Stadium when he was struck by the projectile.

Haslam stopped and pointed in the direction that the bottle came from.

According to the police report, Miller initially failed to stop when ordered by officers. Once he was detained, Miller told police “it never hit the field” as he was being taken to a holding room inside the stadium. He was later booked and held in the Cuyahoga County jail.

In the report, police said Miller appeared to be intoxicated.

The Browns intend to ban Miller from the stadium, a person familiar with the team’s decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity while the legal process plays out.

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