|Charles Trainor Jr/ Miami Herald|
After going undrafted in 2011, Siliga was signed as a free agent by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Ute put up a solid training camp but it wasn't quite enough to last through final cuts (those 49ers would go on to finish 13-3 and make it to the NFC Championship game). A month and a half later, Siliga was signed to the Denver Broncos practice squad, where he finished the remainder of his rookie season. Siliga would spend all of 2012 on the Broncos active roster, seeing action in one game.
Siliga's tenure with the Broncos ended abruptly in training camp this year when he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for offensive lineman John Moffitt. Siliga would get cut from the Seahawks midway through September before getting quickly signed to the Hawks practice squad. However, Siliga would get cut again by the Seahawks 10 days later, this time getting signed to New England's practice squad on October 23rd.
Ironically enough, it was Siliga's old Bronco's teammates gashing the Pats D for 280 yards on the ground that gave Siliga a chance. The big defensive tackle was promoted to the active roster shortly after that Week 12 game, making his first Patriots appearance against Houston and starting the final four games of the regular season.
Siliga has thrived with the Patriots since finally getting the opportunity that eluded him in his prior career stops. In his four starts, Siliga racked up 21 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble while providing the big, gap stuffing presence that had been missing from the Patriots defense since Vince Wilfork went down with an Achilles injury in Week Four.
Speaking of Big Vince, Pats fans probably won't be surprised to find out the captain has essentially become a player-coach, much to Siliga's benefit.
“Vince helps me a lot,” Siliga said. “That’s been one of the biggest guys that’s really helped me on the field.”
Having one of the game's greatest defensive minds as his head coach has helped as well.
“He keeps it vanilla. He keeps it basic,” Siliga said about coach Bill Belichick. “Just go out there and play ball. Don’t think too much. Just play ball and do your job, and do your job well.”
In Siliga's case, that job is controlling his gaps at the line of scrimmage. At a listed 6'2" and 325 pounds, it's a job Siliga is much better equipped for than the undersized Chris Jones (6'2", 306) or Joe Vellano (6'1", 300), both of whom have too often been seen getting driven back as other teams started to emphasize the run against the Pats.
That job will be very important today against the Broncos. With the Patriots likely to be playing a lot of nickel to match the Broncos talented group of receivers, the opportunities will be there for Denver to run against some lighter personnel. In those situations, it will be imperative for the defensive line to win the line of scrimmage, ideally disrupting the running lanes and allowing the linebackers to make plays. It's a task that Siliga is embracing.
“It’s been an honor for them to put that much pressure on me,” he said. “I’m willing to take advantage of all the opportunities I have and keep pressing forward and keep doing my job."
The fact that his three former teams are all that's left standing between the Patriots and a Super Bowl championship isn't lost on Siliga. However, Siliga notes that playing with three successful franchises like that has only benefited his development as a player.
“Every team’s helped me out,” Siliga said to NESN's Doug Kyed. “They help me out, especially with the way I play. Cause I’ve picked up a little something from every team I’ve played for. They’ve been a big help to me, as well. I’ve taken advantage of the veterans.”
Lets hope that by tonight we'll be talking about the prospects of facing one more of Siliga's former teams.