Patriots place Tommy Kelly on IR with lingering knee issues
Kelly had been dealing with an injury to his right knee that has kept the 10-year pro out of game action since Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Although Kelly returned to practice for the first Wednesday and Thursday –albeit on limited basis – he wasn’t present for Friday’s sessions, which likely indicates there was a setback in his recovery from knee injury. Now, he becomes the Patriots’ third defensive starter to spend the rest of the 2013 season on the injured reserve. Defensive tackle VinceWilfork (Achilles) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (chest) have already been placed on the injured reserve list.
When the Patriots signed Kelly this offseason, they expected him to bolster the middle of the defensive line alongside Wilfork. When healthy, Kelly proved he could be a huge part of the Patriots’ interior defense, taking 63-percent snaps in the first four games this season. Kelly has 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks, six quarterback hits and one fumble recovery at this point in the season.
For his career, Kelly has registered 442 total tackles, 36½ sacks, one interception, 15 passes defensed, nine forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries after playing in 134 NFL games with 122 starts.
The former Mississippi State product spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Oakland Raiders, who originally signed Kelly as a rookie free agent in 2004, before releasing him this March.
With Kelly done for the season, the Patriots’ recent trade-deadline acquisition of defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga becomes that much more important. The Patriots shipped off fifth- and sixth-round picks to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the rights to Sopoaga.
First-year player Marcus Forston as well as rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano also remains in the mix at the position. While Jones upped his performance in the wake of Kelly’s injury, and amassed five sacks since Week 5, the Patriots’ depth at defensive tackle still leaves much to be desired. The Patriots might try to find another veteran body to add at the position at some point this season.
Meanwhile, to fill the open roster spot left by moving Kelly to the injured reserve, the Patriots promoted rookie guard Josh Kline from the practice squad. Kline was on the Patriots 53-man roster to start the season but he was eventually declared inactive for the Week 1 game.