The New England Patriots are set to add some additional beef to their defensive line, as defensive tackle Sealver Siliga returned to the practice field yesterday.
Siliga, who emerged as a surprising contributor for the Patriots at the tail end of the 2013 season, came into this year as a starter along the defenisve line next to Vince Wilfork. He played in three games this year, starting at nose tackle when the Patriots operated out of the 3-4 early in the season. However, in the team's third game against the Raiders, he suffered an injured foot and was placed on the team's short-term injured reserve.
After Siliga went down, the Patriots brought in Casey Walker from the Carolina Panthers practice squad and signed the veteran Alan Branch. Walker has had his role diminished in recent weeks and was released to make room for LeGarrette Blount, while Branch figures to have his playing time increase down the stretch.
With yesterday's return to the practice field for Siliga, it starts a 21-day clock in which the Patriots must add him to their 53-man active roster, release him, or place him on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Assuming the Patriots do activate Siliga this week or next, the Patriots will have multiple layers of depth along their defensive line, as well as the versatility to effectively run 3-man and 4-man fronts. Suddenly, a 3-4 that has a defenisive line of Wilfork, Siliga, and Branch, does not seem so bad. With additional pieces such as Chris Jones, Dominique Easley, Rob Ninkovich, Akeem Ayers, and eventually Chandler Jones (hip injury), there isn't an alignment that the Patriots' defense will not be capable of running.