Tommy Kelly: ‘I’ve been waiting for this opportunity’
|07.27.13 at 1:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tommy Kelly doesn’t mince words.
The veteran defensive tackle, who was acquired as a free agent this spring by the Patriots after nine seasons with the Raiders, likes where he stands with New England coach Bill Belichick.
“He laid out what he needed from me when he brought me in,” he said after his second training camp practice with the Patriots on Saturday. “With his reputation you already know: If you don’t get the job done, you’re gone. Me, personally, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity. I played nine long years in Oakland. I enjoyed it. We didn’t win enough, but I still enjoyed my time out there. But it’s late in my career, and I want the chance to play for a [ring], and this was the best opportunity for me.”
The 32-year-old Kelly, a 6-foot-6, 325-pounder out of Mississippi State, was also swayed by the opportunity to play alongside Vince Wilfork.
“He makes it easy,” Kelly said of Wilfork. “To me, he makes it real easy, you know what I’m saying? Cause he’s been in the defense so long, he knows it like [Jerod] Mayo, or Bill [Belichick] or [defensive coordinator] Matty [Patricia] knows it. So it’s real easy playing next to the guy like a middle linebacker. You ask him ‘What’s the check on that?’ and he knows it like that. It makes me real comfortable for me to play my game and do what I do best.”
And what is that, exactly?
“Just do my job, whatever he asks me to do,” he said. “If it’s playing the run or crushing the pocket. Just do my job and don’t try to do no more than what he asks me to do.”
To this point in camp, Kelly has appeared to spend most of his time with the starting defense, lined up alongside Wilfork at the defensive tackle spot. While there was some question as to whether or not his game had fallen off the last few seasons in Oakland, the numbers say he’s been pretty durable: He hasn’t missed a start over the last five seasons and had a combined 14.5 sacks in 2011 and 2010. At this point, it’s likely he will provide some support on passing downs and might have an expanded role depending on what happens with some of the other defensive line prospects.
Kelly indicated that he had spoken with former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour — a teammate of his in Oakland for the last four seasons — and he was able to give him some sort of idea as to how things operated in New England.
“There really aren’t any surprises,” he said. “I talked to big Rich, while we were out there [and] he always told me how it was run, so I already had an expectation level on how they do things here. I just fell in line. I have no problem with it.
“It’s a good start,” he added. “I have no problem with how they run their program. It’s strictly business — you know what I’m saying? You know where you stand with them. You either get the job done or he’s going to get rid of you and get somebody else in here to do it.”