FOXBORO, Mass. — Tommy Kelly is still adjusting to like with his new team, but Vince Wilfork is making that transition awfully easy.
Wilfork, who is headed into his 10th season with the Patriots, knows the ins and outs of the Patriots’ defense and is undoubtedly one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. So, as Kelly has worked to settle in, Wilfork has been there to guide him every step of the way.
“I love Vince,” Kelly said after OTAs at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. “He’s easy to play with. He make my job much easier. He makes most of the line calls.”
Kelly, 32, is no slouch himself. He spent nine productive seasons with the Oakland Raiders and was one of the more consistent interior pass rushers in football during that time, piling up over 400 tackles and 34 sacks in his career.
Kelly is a hard worker both on and off the field, which is why Bill Belichick has praised him and his overall impact over the years. But Kelly freely admitted that his work ethic paled in comparison to the blue collar style that Wilfork brings to work each day.
“He’s lunch pail [guy] to me,” Kelly said, comparing Wilfork to something of a construction worker. “He’s reliable, consistent. You know he’s going to be out there every Sunday and give you all he [has]. As a D-tackle, that’s all you can ask. When you [are] out in the trenches like that you get beat up a lot. But he gives out his share, too.”
Unlike Wilfork, who has proven his worth time and again, Kelly knows that nothing is guaranteed for him with the Patriots, including a spot on the roster. But with Wilfork at his side, Kelly certainly feels a lot better about his chances.