FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — What does the Patriots depth chart look like at defensive tackle?
Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Marcus Forston and a lot of question marks.
With Armond Armstead still absent from practice with a non-football injury, there's a good opportunity for a defensive tackle to earn snaps in the rotation. There are two new job openings this offseason with both Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love being handed their walking papers this offseason -- moves that could be scrutinized in hindsight, given the Patriots lack of depth at the position.
Forston is clearly the third wheel in the rotation, ahead of the likes of Joe Vellano, Anthony Reshad White and Cory Grissom, but he's not taking anything for granted.
"You always feel behind, knowing that you can get better," Forston said. "You don't know all the stuff that you need to know. You always want to be on top of that. Once you get to the point that you always want to get better and that you want to come out here knowing that you don't know it all, you've just got to come out here with the right attitude, a positive attitude knowing that you want to get better."
Forston joined the Patriots in 2012 as an undrafted free-agent out of Miami, and spent the season on the practice squad. Now, with the aforementioned departures of Love and Deaderick, he appears to be a lock for the roster.
He's not getting ahead of himself, though.
"Like I said, I've just got to get better and focus on me," Forston said. "Every day, we go in there and evaluate the film, and the coach points out everything that each guy needs to learn, and each guy needs to improve on, and I try to attack that."
Forston's arrow is pointing up over the past few practices. He went 0-2 in the one-on-one pass-rush drills on Monday and Tuesday, but has gone 3-0 over the past two practices.
Like every player on the roster, he knows his best chance to earn a roster spot and playing time is to show that he's trending upward, but he must also show that he's learning. Forston said the one area he feels he can improve the most is understanding the offense, and mentioned that Wilfork has been a valuable teaching tool in that respect.
"I learn everything [from Vince]," Forston said, "just as far as understanding the game and understanding the offense. It's never too much information, that's something that he knows. He knows the offensive formation, he knows the sets, and he just knows the game, and I'm just trying to learn that."
If Forston is retaining what he is learning from his fellow Miami alum, the Patriots interior defensive line is in good hands. He has shown an explosive first step off the line of scrimmage and an effective bull rush.
Vellano, White and Grissom haven't inspired overwhelming confidence, so unless Armstead returns or the Patriots bring in another defensive tackle via free agency, the Patriots will need good mileage out of Wilfork, Kelly and Forston.
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