When the New England Patriots signed Armond Armstead on Jan. 22, 2013, analysts and fans alike were excited. They thought maybe they had gotten a first-round talent as an undrafted free agent. Fast forward to July 16, 2014, and Armstead is now officially retired; he would play a total of zero games for the Patriots.
Now, the Patriots may have reason to be worried along the defensive line heading into training camp. The team has Dominique Easley, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly all coming off serious injuries suffered last season. The only healthy defensive linemen on the roster right now are Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Marcus Forston, L.T. Tuipulotu and Seali’l Espenesa, the latter two being UDFAs.
Last season, the Patriots were forced to start a combination of Siliga, Jones and Vellano due to injury, and the results weren’t very good, to say the least. In fact, the Patriots’ defense ranked 24th against the run despite having run-stuffer Brandon Spikes for most of the season.
With Spikes now a member of the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots are lacking a healthy run-stuffing presence who can punish an opposing RB. Kelly is getting older and has had durability issues the past few seasons, and Wilfork is less than a year removed from Achilles surgery.
The addition of Easley may prove to be even more important than originally thought given the devastating news about Armstead. The Patriots will have a lot riding on him, especially if Wilfork and Kelly aren’t 100 percent to start the season.