Isaac Sopoaga does a ‘Fast & the Furious thing’ to get to Foxboro as soon as possible
|10.30.13 at 1:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Isaac Sopoaga couldn’t wait to get to New England.
After hearing he had been dealt to the Patriots from Philly on Tuesday at the trade deadline, the veteran defensive tackle took to the roads to get to Gillette Stadium as quick as he could.
“Ohhh. You know about the meaning of the word hectic, right?” he said when he was asked about what he went through over the last 24 hours. “When I found out yesterday, I was with the Eagles, and then, I have to drive to South Jersey to pack my stuff and get ready. You know how that feels.
“Doing your own ‘Fast and the Furious’ thing on the highway, even though it was a 50-mph speed limit. But us Samoan people, we go double the speed limit. I was going roadrunner speed.”
He showed up in time for Wednesday’s practice, and the 6-foot-2, 330-pounder figures to play a rather immediate role for a New England defense that has struggled to stop the run since veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork went down with an Achilles’ injury last month.
A run stuffer in the Wilfork mold, Sopoaga is in his 10th season in the league. The 32-year-old, who has played with the 49ers (2004-2012) and Eagles (2013), has played some defensive tackle and nose tackle in his career. He has 226 career tackles and seven career sacks. (He’s also played a little fullback, lining up in the backfield for a couple of plays last year for the Niners.)
“He’s basically played defensive tackle, nose tackle throughout his career,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “A strong guy, physical guy.”
With Wilfork and Tommy Kelly holding things down at the defensive tackle spot, the Patriots were 13th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, yielding an average of 105 yards per game on the ground over the first four contests. But over the last four weeks, without Wilfork and Kelly (who returned to practice after an extended absence because of a knee injury), they’ve given up 646 total rush yards to the Bengals, Saints, Jets and Dolphins — an average of 156.5 yards per game. Going into this weekend’s game against the Steelers, the Patriots are allowing 130.8 rushing yards per game, 31st in the league.
Enter the former Hawaii product — the Patriots traded a fifth-round draft choice in 2014 for Sopoaga and an Eagles sixth-round pick in 2014. Sopoaga welcomes the chance to start all over again with the Patriots.
“It’s like a dream come true, to be honest,” he said. “[I] respect these guys — the last 10 years, they’ve won three times. The Super Bowl. It’s just awesome. An awesome feeling.”
Sopoaga, who spoke with reporters briefly while standing on a chair in front of his locker, gave “thanks to our gracious and heavenly father for everything He has done for us, individually and our family.” He added an appreciation for the Patriots, saying it felt like a birthday present.
“Thank you to the New England Patriots,” Sopoaga said. “Today is my daughters’ fourth birthday — I feel like today is my birthday. Yesterday was my birthday when I found out that New England called me up. Basically, I am enjoying it. I love it. Thank you.”
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