|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
The New England Patriots lost another key piece in their front seven on Saturday as they placed starting defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on season-ending injured reserve.
|Tommy Kelly is the latest key defensive player for the Patriots to be placed on season-ending injured reserve.|
Kelly injured his right knee Oct. 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had returned to practice for the first time on Wednesday and Thursday this week on a limited basis. But when he wasn't present for Friday's practice, it was an indication that perhaps there was a setback.
Kelly joins defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo as key defenders now on IR.
At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Kelly brought a physical presence to the interior of the defense, playing alongside Wilfork. When healthy in the first four games of the season, he played 63 percent of the defensive snaps, coming off the field in some sub situations. Coaches credited him with 23 tackles and he had 2.5 sacks, six quarterback hits and one fumble recovery.
The Patriots' trade-deadline acquisition of defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga now takes on added importance. Sopoaga joins first-year player Marcus Forston and rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano at the position.
With the open roster spot from placing Kelly on injured reserve, the Patriots promoted rookie guard Josh Kline from the practice squad.