Our worst fears have finally been confirmed. New England Patriots defensive tackle Tommy Kelly is out for the season with a knee injury. This is the just the latest of season-ending injuries that will set the Patriots back.
Kelly was a force when he was healthy, tallying two-and-a-half sacks in just five games with the Patriots. That kind of production had put the monstrous defensive tackle on pace for eight sacks.
Suffice it to say, Kelly was the pass-rushing defensive tackle that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had lacked for the last few seasons. Kelly was the perfect complement to run-stuffing nose-tackle Vince Wilfork, as the two very adeptly pushed the pocket because of their size and strength.
Now the attention turns to a rotation of two undrafted rookie free agents and a veteran to help fill the voids left at defensive tackle. Kelly’s primary replacement will be Chris Jones, who has amazingly tallied five sacks in five games. Then there is Joe Vellano. He only has one sack, but is mostly a run stuffer. Veteran defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga is expected to play Wilfork’s old role in the defense.
Even if Jones continues his torrid start, it still hurts to lose Kelly. Those two could have formed quite the tandem if Kelly was healthy. Plus Kelly goes 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, making him hard to run against. That’s why Kelly was signed this offseason. He is an amazing interior pass rusher for his size, and occupies space with his massive body. Patricia will have a hard time replacing him.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.