Tommy Kelly has always been a favorite of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, one of those opposing players who draws extra special praise. Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s real or contrived, but we found out the answer yesterday.

According to a league source, the Pats and the defensive lineman reached a deal on a two-year contract, so it appears Belichick really holds Kelly in high esteem.

The 32-year-old Kelly, who had been with the Oakland Raiders since 2004, was a salary cap casualty late last month, as the seven-year, $50 million contract he signed in 2008 was no longer feasible.

Once considered one of the best in the league, the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder has the versatility to play any position on the line. Along with the kind of flexibility Belichick loves, Kelly brings both speed and power, and he play both the run and pass equally well.

This past season, Kelly had 45 tackles and one sack. For his career, he has 34.5 sacks through nine seasons.

While now on the back side of his career, Kelly should provide depth and a veteran presence on a line that features Vince Wilfork, along with fourth-year players Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick. The Pats have also added former Canadian Football League star Armond Armstead to the mix.

McCourty update

Devin McCourty, in Cranston, R.I., visiting students at Arlington Elementary school, seemed encouraged by how his shoulder rehab was going.