BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots aren’t saying for certain that Vince Wilfork suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, but with multiple reports saying the big man’s season is over, it seems likely to be the case.

While Jerod Mayo was seemingly holding on to some hope that Wilfork’s season could be saved, he showed no hesitation when asked how the Patriots’ defense can get by in the event Wilfork won’t return.

“We always talk about next man up,” Mayo said in a conference call on Monday. “We have a lot of talented guys on our team. I think Vince got hurt in the first quarter yesterday and guys really stepped up and played well for us. We ended up getting the victory, which is always is a good thing. That’s our mentality — the next man up. I’m sure we have a lot of great people, great players, great leaders in the organization in general so I know I expect that to continue on.”

Wilfork left Sunday night’s game on the opening drive, and he didn’t return. The Pats’ defense limited the Falcons for much of the game, though the D needed a red zone stand in the final minutes to secure the victory.

The absence of Wilfork was manageable in that game, but Mayo said it would be hard to account for what a season-long absence would mean to the team.

“Obviously, Vince is a huge asset for our team, not only on the field but off the field,” Mayo said. “He’s a great leader, he demands double teams in the run game and he also coordinates some of the rushes in the pass game, so a great asset for this defense.”


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