New England Patriots: Joe Vellano, Chris Jones and Tommy Kelly Must Step in for Vince Wilfork


The New England Patriots 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons last night left a big dent on the front seven and Chris Jones, Joe Vellano and Tommy Kelly pinched-in their share to assure the Patriots 4-0 drive. It’s heart breaking to know that Vince Wilfork more likely will not return for remainder of the season due to a torn Achilles.

Sep 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Globe Shalise Manza Young reported yesterday of Wilfork’s ending season injury. And today, ESPN Boston Mike Reiss has confirmation from a league source that Wilfork has indeed a torn right Achilles tendon and it’s almost certain he will be out for the season. Even though Wilfork was listed on the injury report (foot) for the first time this season, it did not seem to be of greater concern since he was listed as full participant, but I guess that what transpired on the play where he appeared to turn his right foot while trying to pressure Matt Ryan was enough to complete the damage.

Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia had no choice but to make significant adjustments on his defensive scheme with rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones. Vellano closed the game with 2 tackles and 1 sack; Tommy Kelly had 1 tackle; rookie Michael Buchanan 2 tackles and 1 sack, and Chris Jones with 1 tackle. Earlier in the preseason Vellano demonstrated good potential to be a difference-maker in the front seven – worth enough to be in the 53-man roster, and I’m glad the Patriots had Tommy Kelly in mind during free agency, because as tough as our 10-year veteran Wilfork is, injuries do not discriminate anyone in this league.

We will certainly need more than just Vellano, Jones and Kelly to step up. The best scenario at this point to compensate losing Wilfork, will be integrating practice-squad first-year Marcus Forston or rookie A.J. Francis as a depth for Vellano, Kelly and Jones. In the meantime, the Patriots can analyze if Armond Armstead will be ready to start practicing after Week 6 since he has been on the reserve/non-football illness list.

Kyle Love would be the right player to step in for Wilfork, but his immediate release after being diagnosed for diabetes does not look to be very suitable. He was then signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in May and released in September. Also reports indicate that the San Francisco 49ers had Love for a workout due to a thin defensive line in Demarcus Dobbs and Tony Jerod-Eddie to back up Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. As of to date, Love did not elect to pursue legal action for his release with the Patriots. In the 2012 season, Love played all 16 games with Wilfork, combining 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

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