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Bill Belichick: No reason to think Isaac Sopoaga wouldn’t be ready to play Sunday

11.01.13 at 5:42 pm ET

On a handful of occasions, when the Patriots have acquired a player via free agency or in a trade, it’s been fairly easy to trace Bill Belichick‘s interest in that individual. In the cases of Tommy Kelly and Rosevelt Colvin, Belichick waxed rhapsodic about their skills long before New England made a play for their services.

There was no such public trail with newly acquired defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga, but that doesn’t mean Belichick didn’t covet him. On Friday, the Patriots coach recalled eyeballing Sopoaga in the days before the 2004 draft, thinking they might have a shot at landing the Hawaii product.

“We talked about taking him, and we were going to take him ‘€¦ and we were just a round late,” Belichick recalled of the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Sopoaga, who was taken in the fourth round of the draft that year by the Niners. “But we’€™d already taken Vince [Wilfork] obviously. But you can never have too many defensive linemen. That was kind of the conversation. He was right there; we were ready to take him. We said, ‘€˜Well, you know, we can get him one round earlier.’€™ We’€™d already taken a couple guys and we probably waited a little bit too long on that one.”

Sopoaga is in his 10th season in the league, and in the words of Belichick, developed into a “pretty good fourth-round pick.”

“If you knew what his career was going to be, he could have gone in the second,” Belichick said. “He couldn’€™t have gone in the first ahead of some people who were drafted in that round obviously. No, I’€™d say he’€™s had a real good career. To be a fourth-round pick that’€™s done what he’€™s done, I’€™d say not too many of them have done that, right? So, I think it’€™s been pretty good.”

With the Patriots downgrading Kelly to out on Sunday, Sopoaga is certainly a candidate to see his first action as a member of the Patriots Sunday against the Steelers. Belichick said Friday he doesn’t “think there’€™s any reason why he shouldn’€™t be ready to play.”

“He’€™s been playing — it’€™s not like we signed a guy off the street. I think he’€™s in good condition,” Belichick said. “His reactions are what you’€™d expect them to be. He just has to get familiar with our terminology and some of the way we play certain blocks or what his responsibilities are on blitzes and that kind of thing. You know, he’€™s a smart guy and he obviously has a lot of experience. As I said, he’€™s been playing so he’€™s certainly in football shape. I think he’€™s doing fine. We have a couple more days, we have to clean up a few things. I think he should, if he continues to progress throughout the week, I don’€™t think there’€™s any reason why he shouldn’€™t be ready to play.”

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