FOXBOROUGH – Defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga comes to the Patriots at a time in which the team’s defensive line has been depleted due to injuries.
Sopoaga, 6-2 and 330 pounds, will fill in for Vince Wilfork, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Oct. 3, and Tommy Kelly, who has been hampered with a knee injury and has missed the past three games.
The new defensive tackle, who will wear No. 90, played nine seasons for the San Francisco 49ers as a defensive tackle and nose guard before signing as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots traded a fifth round draft choice in 2014 for Sopoaga and an Eagles sixth round pick in 2014.
“He’s basically played defensive tackle, nose tackle throughout his career,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Strong guy, physical guy.”
The Patriots had opted to use rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano in place of Wilfork and Kelly. Bringing in Sopoaga is likely to shore up the team’s run defense, which has given up 156.5 rushing per game since Wilfork was placed on IR.
Could Sopoaga be the next man up?
“Well I think that’s really that mentality from the day we step on the field as a football team,” Belichick said. “It’s great to have everybody available. It’s great to have all your players at full strength. The reality is it’s usually not the case. Every team goes through the same thing somewhere along the line.”