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Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Veteran DT Tommy Kelly eases back in

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One welcome sight for the New England Patriots in Tuesday's mandatory minicamp practice was 11-year veteran Tommy Kelly getting back into the mix at defensive tackle.

Kelly
When the team worked an 11-on-11 drill late in the practice, Kelly teamed with Vince Wilfork on the inside, reuniting the pair that anchored the defense early in 2013 before both were lost to season-ending injuries Sept. 29 (Wilfork, ruptured Achilles) and Oct. 6 (Kelly, torn ACL).

"I feel fine, it's just getting back to making moves and knocking the rust off," Kelly said afterward. "I'm not too much worried about my knee."

The worries were there last year, when the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Kelly was knocked out of the team's Oct. 6 loss at Cincinnati when he injured his knee while rushing the passer. He thought he'd be able to return, and did make it back to practice later in the season, but might have re-injured himself and ultimately was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

"That was my plan [to return]. That's what I was hoping and praying for, but it didn't work out that way," Kelly said Tuesday. "Me and the training staff, we worked hard, tried to get my knee back to where I could get through the game, but it just didn't work out that way."

Kelly said he's spent the offseason in the region since he underwent surgery in December.

"I'm a resident of Foxborough now," he joked.

As for rehabbing with Wilfork, Kelly said he isn't surprised to see the captain making great progress from his injury.

"Pretty much what I know of V, I think V is going to be all right," he said. "He's a very hard worker and he's the type of person that once he commits his mind to something, he's going to get it done. I don't think we should worry too much about him. He's going to be OK."