Pats put Kelly on IR, ending his season

Pats put Kelly on IR, ending his season
November 2, 2013, 6:45 pm
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The Patriots defense has been hit with a sucker punch.

Tommy Kelly, the veteran defensive tackle who made a surprising impact in just four games with the team, has been placed on injured reserve.

Kelly was trending back to the field this week, participating in practice Wednesday and Thursday in a limited capacity before a full absence on Friday.

Whether Kelly aggravated the knee injury or simply found the pain untenable isn’t yet known but he did appear to be moving freely in practice before suddenly being lost for the year.

The Patriots filled Kelly’s roster spot with practice squad guard Josh Kline.

There is nobody on the roster to adequately fill the role Kelly created however. The 6-6, 310-pounder first opened eyes with his sheer mass on the first day of training camp and kept eyes wide when it was clear his strength and quickness were of a sort not seen since Richard Seymour was in New England.

In four games, he had 2.5 sacks, 23 tackles, six quarterback hits and a fumble recovery. Whether Kelly would have been able to keep up that pace and finish with 10 sacks seems a stretch but between Kelly, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork the Patriots front-four had too many weapons to capably handle.

With first Wilfork and now Kelly on IR, the defensive line has been dealt a major blow.

Kelly initially got hurt against the Bengals, came back from the sidelines in that Oct. 6 game to try and finish a drive then missed the remainder of the game.

Since he’s been down, the team has tried to get by with the surprising work of Chris Jones (5 sacks) and Joe Vellano. They’ve played well but neither can do what Kelly and Wilfork did. The Patriots this week signed Isaac Sopoaga to be a big body in the middle. The team also signed veteran Andre Carter last week and he’s being used in conjunction with Chandler Jones on the right side of the defensive line. Armond Armstead, a 6-6, 305-pounder has until Week 11 to be activated as he is in the non-football injury list with an infection he came down with in camp.