Patriots place DT Dominique Easley (thigh) on injured reserve

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Second-year New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley, whose interior pass rush provided a boost in obvious throwing situations, was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

Easley, a 2014 first-round draft choice out of Florida, injured his thigh in the second half of Sunday night's 27-6 victory over the Houston Texans.

The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Easley finishes the season with 15 tackles, which ranks 16th on the team, to go along with two sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

This marks the second straight season he's been placed on IR in early December. Easley, who tore both ACLs while in college at Florida, had been placed on IR last year because of a knee injury. He also missed two games this season -- one with a hip injury on Sept. 20 and the other with an ankle injury on Dec. 6.

When healthy, Easley proved that he could be disruptive as a pass-rusher, as evidenced by his first-quarter sack Sunday night. Managing his workload seemed to be a priority for the coaching staff, perhaps given his injury history, as Easley had played 31 percent of the defensive snaps this season.

In recent weeks, the club has been playing all three of its top defensive ends -- Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard -- in obvious passing situations and pairing them with Easley. On Sunday night after Easley left with the thigh injury, four-year veteran Akiem Hicks took over his role and was productive.