Dominique Easley not expected to play Thursday, still hopeful for Week One

AP

The Patriots released defensive tackle Tommy Kelly this week in a move that came as a bit of a surprise.

Kelly was coming off a torn ACL, but the Patriots don’t have much experience at the position outside of Vince Wilfork and first-round pick Dominique Easley has yet to play in a preseason game after tearing his own ACL in 2013. That’s not expected to change on Thursday night against the Giants.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Easley is not expected to play in the team’s final exhibition game of the summer, but the team remains hopeful that he’ll be able to suit up for the season opener against the Dolphins. If he can’t go, the Patriots will have to turn to someone (or some combination) from the group Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga, Joe Vellano and Jerel Worthy to fill the spot next to Wilfork.

Some of those players will be in the rotation anyway as neither Easley nor Wilfork projects to play every snap of the game for the Patriots this season, but the decision to part ways with Kelly will have much less potential to come back as a negative if Easley is able to make it on the field come September 7.