BOSTON (CBS) – He may be the elder statesman of the New England defense, but Vince Wilfork doesn’t feel that way.

“I don’t feel it,” the 30-year nose tackle said Thursday afternoon from Gillette. “That’s something I never look at. Every year I know it’s a year under your belt. But when I’m playing I don’t feel like I’m 30 or nine years in. I’m like everyone else; I come to work, work hard, and expect the same out of my teammates. As long as you keep that mind frame, you can play as long as you want to play.”

READ MORE: DA: Woman Arrested In South Shore Plaza Murder, Shooter Remains At-Large

For Wilfork, it’s pretty easy to carry his 6-2, 325-pound frame to work in the morning. Why? He still has the hunger he had when he was drafted back in 2004.

“You have to have the passion for it. I love it, and I love playing with my teammates; love playing for this organization,” he said. “Whatever I can do to make this team better, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Read: Patriots-Titans ‘Tale of the Tape’

“It’s very excited to get going. We’re on the road and it’s going to be a tough game for us,” he said of Sunday’s season opener against the Titans. “But we can’t look back now. We have to hit the ground running and I’m looking forward to it.”

READ MORE: 2 Firefighters Injured At Laundromat Fire In Dorchester

The four-time Pro Bowler is the key cog to the Patriots defensive line, and not just because of his massive build. He is the leader of the bunch on a relatively young defensive unit — on the field and in the locker room. Despite this being Bill Belichick’s youngest group, Wilfork isn’t worried about the unknown that faces them come Sunday in Tennessee.

“Everybody is in the same predicament as us. I’m pretty sure things that we’re preparing for, we’ll have to make adjustments on Sunday,” he said. “We prepare well. We can only prepare from what we’ve seen in the past and you go from there. As long as everyone is on the same page I think we’ll be ok.”

And while he always looks focused and determined on the field during battle, Wilfork also finds time to have fun playing the game he loves.

Read: Levan Reid’s Patriots Blog

“You always have to have fun,” he said. “As long as you know what you’re doing, you can have fun. It’s not fun when you don’t know what you’re doing. Hopefully everyone is on the same page and we can start this thing off right.”

MORE NEWS: Nor'easter Likely To Bring More Than 2 Feet Of Snow, Blizzard Conditions Saturday

Tune in to Patriots-Titans at 1p.m. Sunday afternoon on both WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub! Pregame coverage begins at 10 a.m. on the Hub and at 11:30a.m. on WBZ with Patriots Gameday. Tune in after the game for full postgame coverage on 98.5 and on MyTV-38!