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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Kelly fills void next to Wilfork

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If Wednesday's organized team activity is any indication, the answer to the question of who starts alongside Vince Wilfork was hard to miss. At 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, veteran Tommy Kelly stands out from the crowd.

Tommy Kelly
Tommy Kelly talks to the media Wednesday.
A Wilfork-Kelly tandem was the prominent pairing at defensive tackle in the 4-3 defense. While Kelly was viewed by some as the likely starter next to Wilfork after signing a two-year deal with the club in April, his standing became clearer after the Patriots released co-starters Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick in May.

Kelly answered questions from reporters after Wednesday's 90-minute practice, and he touched on being released by the Raiders and landing in New England.

"I knew I could play, so I really wasn't worried about it," he said. "I just prayed about it, and told my wife it was time for us to go, and let it happen."

Soon enough, Bill Belichick called.

"When you're dealing with a coach with a resume like his, if somebody like that believes in you it makes you feel good about yourself," he said. "At the same time, it's a program where you have to prove yourself. If you don't prove yourself, he'll get rid of you."

That doesn't look like it will be a problem for the 32-year-old Kelly, who was asked about teaming up with Wilfork and touched on Wilfork's unique athleticism for his size, which is reflected in his two interception returns in the 2011 season. "He has a lot of dog in him, so you love that," he said.

As for Kelly, his sack numbers dipped from 7.5 in 2011 to 1 last season.

"Whatever happened last year happened, I'm kind of moving on from that; I'm not really tripping on it," he said. "I know I'm going to bounce back so I'm not really worried about it."