FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- While the New England Patriots have yet to officially announce the acquisition of defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, the third-year pro was present at the start of Thursday’s walk-through practice wearing a No. 97 jersey.
Worthy, a 2012 second-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers, adds another player to the mix along the interior of the defensive line, but he has been sidelined with back and knee injuries.
Patriots first-year offensive lineman Braxston Cave (Notre Dame) remembers matching up against Worthy (Michigan State) in college.
“He [Worthy] was a great player in college,” Cave said Thursday. “He is an explosive player and he did great things in college. Haven’t got the chance to play against him in the pros but he’s a good player and glad to have him here.”
Worthy has seen minimal playing time in the NFL, appearing in just 16 games, though in his time at Michigan State, he established himself as a powerful inside presence who clogged up the middle, especially stopping the run. The 6-foot-2, 308-pound Worthy also showed a good burst to penetrate gaps and pressure the quarterback as he tallied 11.5 sacks in three seasons.
Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he liked Worthy, but the organization had to do what was best.
“I’m really reluctant to get into all that because Jerel was a great guy and he worked hard,” Trgovac said. “I had no problem [with Worthy] and I’m sure they didn’t.”
Now, pending health, Worthy has an opportunity to revive his NFL career as the Patriots may need depth at defensive tackle with Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga missing time during training camp with injuries.
“In this system, you come in, they give you a role and what you’ve done in the past doesn’t really matter,” Cave said about a fresh start for Worthy. “So he’s got an opportunity here and I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.”