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Wilfork: Respect Belichick or else

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork (75) knows he

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork (75) knows he and his defensive linemates must slow down the Jets' running game. Credit: AP

Tom Brady may think the Patriots let their play do the talking for them, but there are enough gum-flappers on the New England roster to fuel the intensity of this rivalry for a third time this season.

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, for instance, said in a radio interview Monday that he's ready to throw down with anyone who disses Bill Belichick.

"People who don't respect him need to be punched in their face," Wilfork said. "The guy's been around this game so long and been successful so long, you can't do anything but respect him."

Safety Brandon Meriweather said he uses trash talk before and during a game for inspiration.

"I talk to everybody," he said. "I'll go and talk to the linemen or to the running backs, to the receivers. I'm even going to talk to [Mark] Sanchez. I talk to everybody . . . It gets me going."

The Jets clearly do a lot of talking. Sometimes they even do some dancing. Braylon Edwards did after scoring a touchdown against Patriots defensive back Darius Butler in Week 2 of this season. Talk is one thing, but that?

"Listen, listen, I'm not going to go into that," Meriweather said, "but he would not Dougie on me."

Rusty Spikes

Rookie LB Brandon Spikes, who was suspended the final four games of the regular season for failing a league-mandated drug test, will be on the field Sunday against the Jets. He practiced with the team last week, but his impact may be tempered by his time off.

"Well, it looked like he hadn't practiced in four weeks with the team," Belichick said of Spikes. "He's got a ways to go . . . Hopefully, he'll be better this week than he was last week."

Personal? Or personnel?

While Belichick and Rex Ryan were sizing each other up, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio had some fun fielding questions about his "matchup" with Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum. It was suggested that the two front-office men could have a race at halftime of Sunday's game.

"Sure, if Mike's up for it," Caserio said. "I'd be more than happy to. Hopefully, I don't embarrass myself."

Not everyone on the Patriots' staff is ready for a brawl. Linebackers coach Matt Patricia said any competition he takes part in would have to be nonphysical.

"I can probably stand outside the longest in shorts," he said. "I think I could take that one. The rest of that, I think I would have an issue with."

New York Sports