The New England Patriots have hit hard times when it comes to the health of their defensive tackles. Two weeks ago against the Atlanta Falcons, they lost All-Pro DT Vince Wilfork for the rest of the season to an Achilles injury. Last week in their first loss of the season, they lost Tommy Kelly late. Kelly has not been practicing this week, but has said that he will be fine and should be ready to go come Sunday. The Patriots have a pair of rookies filling in for Wilfork, but with questions around Kelly, the Patriots brought in another big body to help out.
The Patriots announced Wednesday that they signed veteran DT Andre Neblett. Neblett was an undrafted free agent out of Temple in 2010. He played the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers and spent the preseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being cut. At 6-foot and 310 pounds, Neblett is a bit undersized as a DT but is a big body that can help plug up the gaps in the middle especially against the rush. He is 25 years old and has 10 career tackles and three career sacks.
Don’t expect Neblett to come in and make a huge impact, but he could be a solid player in the rotation and will help up the middle. The bigger concern is getting Tommy Kelly healthy after the scare he had Week 5. Kelly’s role has become even more important since Wilfork went down, and losing him for a period of time would hurt the Patriots in stopping the rush and pressuring the QB up the middle. Another player to look out for is Armond Armstead who will be coming off the non-injury PUP list after this week and could have a big impact on the defensive line. Without Wilfork, the Patriots will be plugging people in until they find a combination that works.