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Ex-Terps DL Joe Vellano, now a starter for Patriots, earns praise from Bill Belichick

FootballPro FootballMaryland TerrapinsNew England PatriotsVince WilforkPittsburgh Steelers

When Pro Bowl defensive tackle Vince Wilfork tore his right Achilles tendon in September, it created a huge void in the middle of the New England Patriots' defense.

Since that key injury, former Terps defensive lineman Joe Vellano has helped stabilize the position, emerging as a productive starter. In 14 games (eight starts), the undrafted free agent has recorded 48 tackles and two sacks.

A two-time team captain who had 61 tackles and six sacks as a senior last season at Maryland, Vellano had three tackles and a sack in his first game replacing Wilfork against the Atlanta Falcons. And the 6-foot-2, 300-pound former All-American and all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection had a career-high nine tackles against the New York Jets and recovered a fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Yeah, another Terp, Joe did a good job for us, got some playing time," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told Baltimore reporters today during a conference call. "We’ve had some injuries at that position, and he has stepped in and done a good job. Joe works hard.

"He is a tough kid. He really competes well and is in pretty good condition. He has had to play a lot of plays in several games. He has really hung in there and done a good job for us.”

awilson@baltsun.com

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FootballPro FootballMaryland TerrapinsNew England PatriotsVince WilforkPittsburgh Steelers
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