The mammoth defensive tackle returned from the physically unable to perform list (PUP) on Saturday but had to wade through a couple of days of mostly watching before he donned his full uniform and got back at it for real on Tuesday.
"It felt wonderful, absolutely wonderful," Kelly said with his trademark smile. "I’ve been itching to get back on the field so it felt real good baby, real good.
"I’m getting better. I wouldn’t put a percentage on anything but I definitely feel comfortable, I don’t feel like I have any restrictions on doing anything, I feel good."
Kelly was back in pads over the weekend but was limited to individual drills and did not take part in any full team action, save for some non-contact work as part of the field goal block unit. Although he was in full pads on Tuesday he was still limited in terms of contact, although he seemed to do more than he had previously.
Kelly understands the importance of returning to full strength as soon as possible. The 33-year-old is entering his 11th season, and took a pay cut during the offseason as he was in the midst of rehabbing from a torn ACL that limited him to just five games during his first season in New England.
"Me personally, I ain’t ever worried about any competition, I love competition," Kelly said. "You don’t ever worry about what’s behind you, you worry about what’s in front of you. I’ve always been very confident in myself so I don’t see anybody. I just go out there and play. I let my talent take over and I’ll be OK.
"It’s been positive. At the end of the day they’re looking out for your best interest. I’m a vet, I want to get out on the field, I’m the type of guy that I can’t roll out of bed and my game is going to be great. I have to go out there every day and work on my hands, work on my get-out, work on my explosion, read my keys. I’m the type of guy that loves practice."
At least now he’s back on the practice field. Now it’s a matter of doing more while he’s there.
Dennard off PUP
The secondary has been arguably been the team’s strength through the early portion of camp. With
With Dennard soon to be added to that depth it will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick decides to use him. Browner appears to be the starter but he’ll be forced to sit out the first four games while serving an NFL suspension, and perhaps he’ll want to get Dennard some work with the top group.
One of the underrated camp battles could be the fight for the starting job at center. Incumbent
The 6-4, 320-pound Stork came with great credentials and through the early part of camp he received periodic reps with some of the frontline offensive linemen.
Buy: Logan Ryan – The second-year corner has been extremely competitive in his coverage throughout camp and has gotten his hands on a number of passes. On Tuesday he took the majority of reps in the slot as part of the nickel package and seems to have an early leg up on Kyle Arrington for that role.
Sell: Bryan Stork – Through no fault of his own the rookie suffered a setback in his potential bid to earn a starting job at center as he suffered an apparent injury during a drill midway through practice and did not return. If the injury is anything that keeps him off the field for any length of time, his chances of beating out Ryan Wendell are remote.
Play of the Day:
Staking their claim
Gaffney played one year of minor baseball after being drafted by Pittsburgh in the 24th round in 2012. He returned to Stanford and football last year and was drafted by Carolina in the sixth round in May. He went down with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee and the Panthers waived him in hopes of putting him on IR, but the Patriots claimed him before they could do so.
With Kelly and Dennard off PUP, that list is now down to three: