The Patriots placed Tommy Kelly on injured reserve Saturday. A source explained that, after two days of practicing, the veteran’s knee just wasn’t responding well enough to the stress to believe it would hold up to game action.
Bill Belichick said Monday morning he was disappointed at the outcome for the likable Kelly.
“He’s come in and done everything we asked him to do in the spring, training camp, at the start of the season when he was healthy and then he got hurt in the Cincinnati game,” said Belichick. “A tough break for him because he’s worked so hard and really has done a good job for us. He helped us in the running game and the passing game. We’ve asked him to play some different techniques and he worked fairly hard to adapt his game to our scheme and style of play. He and Vince [Wilfork] had a good rapport going in there but unfortunately he won’t be able to finish the season for us this year. As I said, I’m disappointed anytime a player gets hurt, obviously. Players put so much into their preparation for the season, not just this year but throughout their entire career to get to this point.”
It will be tough to find a direct replacement for Kelly in terms of body type unless Armond Armstead comes off the non-football injury list the week after the bye. There are no other 6-foot-6, 305-pounders hanging on the roster.
But the players the Patriots have imported recently to help shore up the front -- Isaac Sopoaga and Andre Carter -- are headed in the right direction, according to Belichick.
“Isaac and Andre, they went in there and competed well (against the Steelers on Sunday). I think [there’s] a long way to go with both of them. There are a lot of things they can do better. They showed up, made a few plays for us,” said Belichick. “Andre had a couple good pass rushes, hit the quarterback. Isaac was a factor on those short-yardage plays, short-yardage stops; knocked down a screen pass.
"But overall, there’s still, I think, a lot of work and improvement they can have, but one thing about those guys is they’re willing and even though they’re veteran players, they’re very willing to spend the extra time, do the extra work. I think we saw improvement from Isaac over the course of the week and we’ve seen improvement from Andre since he’s been here as well. I think we’re headed in the right direction but of course, they’re not at the point they’d be at if they’d been here all year. So we’ll have to try to close that gap.”