The Patriots have placed DT Tommy Kelly (knee) on injured reserve, ending his season.
The 10th year veteran was injured against the Bengals in Week 5, returning to practice this week. He was on the field Wednesday and Thursday, though on a limited basis, but did not practice Friday, and the team declared him out for this week’s game against Pittsburgh.
It was easy to surmise then that he had suffered a setback in his return; now, he’ll be on the sidelines for the remainder of the Patriots’ season.
In the moments after New England’s defeat in Cincinnati, Kelly told a reporter in the locker room that he’d be fine, which unfortunately turned out not to be the case.
The loss of Kelly, which follows the loss of Vince Wilfork (Achilles) after the Atlanta game, makes the Patriots’ acquisition of Isaac Sopoaga at the trade deadline this week all the more important. Sopoaga is an interior run-stopper, and while the team’s rookie D-linemen, Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, have done an admirable job since being thrust into larger roles, Jones in particular has struggled against the run.
As a team, New England has allowed 156.5 rushing yards per game over its previous four games, dropping the team to the 31st-ranked run defense in the NFL.
Kelly signed a two-year contract with New England in the spring. Though he fit in quickly and played well when healthy, his base salary next year is $1.95 million; that might be more than the Patriots are willing to pay for a 33-year old D-tackle coming off knee injury.
Kelly becomes the 8th player on injured reserve for the Patriots, though RB Shane Vereen, who has returned to practice, was designated for return and is eligible to be activated to the roster in Week 10.
New England promoted OL Josh Kline off the practice squad to fill the open roster spot created by the move with Kelly.