"I'm sure they're going to try to run the ball more," defensive tackle Tommy Kelly told the Boston Herald. "I mean, we're lighter up front now. Take Vince out, I mean, I'd try to run the ball more. That's being smart, but I think we're more than capable of handling the job."
Kelly said he's looking forward to the chance to destroy those plans.
"If you're any type of competitor, who wants someone to look at you, to me, to make me look like a little stepbrother?" Kelly asked. "Without the big brother and you're going to try me like that? I just told Joe (Vellano), 'Don't try to be like V. Be the best Joe Vellano you can be, and you'll be fine.' "
Kelly has been a solid offseason pick up, but the Patriots' depth is a big question mark Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Vellano, an undrafted rookie, and former sixth-round pick Chris Jones, who was claimed off waivers this year, are the only two other defensive tackles on the roster.
Last week the Atlanta Falcons lacked the personnel to exploit the Patriots up the middle after Wilfork's injury. On Sunday, the Bengals can ram BenJarvus Green-Ellis at the Pats' lighter front and counterpunch it with shifty rookie running back Giovani Bernard.
With Andy Dalton's struggles we would expect to see the Bengals do exactly what Kelly said and run right at the Wilfork-sized hole. It will be interesting to see how master-schemer Bill Belichick will counter.