FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Vince Wilfork has played only two career games in Kansas City.
That’s more than enough for New England’s All-Pro nose tackle to know exactly how loud Arrowhead Stadium will get on Monday night.
“They’re probably one of the loudest, between them and Seattle, are the loudest stadiums I’ve ever played in,” Wilfork said Thursday in anticipation of the Patriots (2-1) primetime matchup with the Chiefs (1-2). “It’s going to be rocking. I know it will.”
Fortunately for Wilfork and the rest of the Patriots defense, crowd noise won’t be nearly as much of a factor for them as it will for quarterback Tom Brady and the offense.
That’s a good thing, too, because they’ll already have their hands full trying to slow the Chiefs potent rushing attack, which is averaging 124.7 yards per game despite the absence of their star running back last week.
Three-time Pro Bowler Jamaal Charles left Kansas City’s second game of the season against Denver with an ankle injury and sat out the Chiefs’ win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
After the team had Tuesday and Wednesday off, Charles returned to practice Thursday and coach Andy Reid said he expects him to play against the Patriots.
Not that it seems to matter, though. The Chiefs have a stable of running backs ready to attack New England’s 11th-ranked rushing defense.
Second-year back Knile Davis came up big after Charles went down, rushing for 79 yards and two touchdowns while also catching six passes against the Broncos. Davis then ran for 132 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries against the Dolphins, while Joe McKnight caught a pair of touchdown passes.
Wilfork and the Patriots are preparing for Charles, but will be ready for whoever takes the field.
“They didn’t miss a beat last week without him,” Wilfork said. “This is a team that wants to run the football, that’s what they do, they’re built to run the ball. We have to be able to stop all of them when it comes down to it.”
Not an easy task, either, considering the varying skill sets of both.
A fleet-footed, elusive runner, Charles is effective in both the running and passing games, and is coming off a career year in 2013 when he had 1,287 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, and also added 70 receptions and seven more scores.
“Charles, there’s not too many guys faster than him,” Wilfork said. “I’ll tell you that.”
Then there’s Davis, more of a straight-ahead back who is 5-foot-10, 227 pounds and can pound the ball with the best of them.
“I think they’re different skill sets, but they do the same things with them so the same plays look different depending on who is carrying the ball,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Davis is strong … and he breaks tackles, he’s got good lower body strength, hard guy to bring down.
“Charles has good playing strength, too, but he’s more elusive, great quickness, acceleration. They’re different, but they’re both very good. They both can hit the home run ball, they’ve both got great long speed — they have that in common — but their styles are a little bit different.”
Wilfork sees plenty of similarities, too.
“They both run downhill, they both test the edges, they both catch the ball out of the backfield, they both block. They’re built differently but at the same time, they run hard, like a big back,” he said. “We have to do a real good job up front of playing well, in the run game and the pass game, because they use them so much everywhere on the field.”
As if that tandem isn’t scary enough for New England’s defense, it also has to be wary of Alex Smith, who ranks second among all quarterbacks this season with 95 yards rushing on 13 rushing attempts.
“I’m not saying he wants to run 10, 15 times a game, but when he has to, he does it, and he makes plays,” Wilfork said. “And it’s not like he’s sliding. A lot of times you think he’s going to slide and he cuts back and kind of catches defenses by surprise because he’s not sliding. He’s a smart football player.”