Bill Belichick “optimistic” Will Smith will be healthy enough to help Pats

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The Patriots have had some success giving situational roles to veterans on the back side of productive careers and coach Bill Belichick is hopeful that the team can have the same luck with Will Smith.

The former Saints pass rusher is coming off a torn ACL and Belichick said that “he still has some rehabilitation to do” before there will be much idea about his chances of helping the Patriots. Belichick said the feeling is that Smith is coming along, though, and is hopeful that he’ll add to his 67.5 career sacks.

“We’€™ll see where Will is able to get to. He’€™s got a lot of experience — he’s got a lot of production throughout his career,” Belichick said, via WEEI.com. “I think he’€™ll be competitive, but we’€™ll have to see how he rehabs from the injury. But we’™re optimistic that he’€’ll be on the field and be able to compete at some point. He’€™s not ready right now, but I think he will be.”

Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich give the Patriots two solid defensive ends, but the third spot in the rotation should be up for grabs. If Smith is healthy, he’ll compete with Jake Bequette, Michael Buchanan and 2014 sixth-round pick Zach Moore for that role.