Kelly excited for 'golden opportunity' with Pats

Kelly excited for 'golden opportunity' with Pats
August 13, 2013, 12:00 am
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FOXBORO -- Tommy Kelly is fully aware. New England is not Oakland. The Patriots are not the Raiders.

Things are different for the 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle. Now into the third week of training camp with his new team, entering his 10th NFL season, Kelly has embraced what's ahead of him.

And that's the opportunity to win. Something he didn't have in his nine seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

In New England, things are different.

"I got what I pretty much expected," said Kelly after Monday's training camp session at Gillette Stadium. "They're real with you. They're going to give you a shot to see what you can do. And if you can't do it, [Bill Belichick] gonna get you up out of here. Simple as that. I don't have no problem how they run this show, personally, at all."

During his nine years with the Raiders, Kelly never got a taste of playoff football. In fact, he was never even part of a team that had more than eight wins.

In all but two of those nine seasons, Kelly played in all 16 regular-season games, with his greatest personal success coming in 2010 with seven sacks, and in 2011 with seven-and-a-half sacks.

"It's football, it's like boxing," said Kelly. "Your toughness is pretty much one of the biggest things you need in this game. And if you ain't tough or durable, they're going to weed you out real quick on this level. I run every day, I just try to take care of my body as best I can. Because this game will wear you down real, real, real quick."

What could also wear you down is losing, consistently. That's what Kelly has been a part of in his entire NFL career. He hopes, until now.

With the offensive question marks that surround Tom Brady's receiving unit, the Patriots' defense is being looked upon to be better than just "bend but don't break" out of the gate. And Kelly's presence next to Vince Wilfork on the Patriots' defensive line will be the first step to achieving "greatness."

"That's the starting point for any great defense," said Kelly about his defensive line. "Just like with any great offense, the starting point is always going to be the O-line. If you've got a great offensive line, you've got something to build from. So if you've got a great defensive line, you can always put yourself in good positions, 2nd-and-long situations, or put yourself in a situation where you don't have to blitz all the time and you can just rush four. So I think any time you can have a real good D-line, that's the benchmark of a great defense."

If it all plays out as Kelly is imagining, he'll finally be part of a team that could make a serious run at a championship. Long ways away, obviously. But Kelly isn't trying to hide his anticipation and excitement for what type of team he could finally be a part of.

"I pretty much know what my job is," said Kelly. "I just look at it like this, it's kind of like a golden opportunity for me. I doubt that I'd mess this up. So I'm very confident in my ability. I'm very confident in how I fit into this scheme. I'm just going to keep doing my job every day.

"It's a golden opportunity every time you're playing on a team like this, that's got an opportunity to do something. It's an opportunity, a golden opportunity. It's a better chance than you probably had in the past, but you got to take advantage of it."