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Patriots Roster Prediction #49: DE/DT Ron Brace

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Player Name: DE/DT Ron Brace

Experience: 1 Year in the NFL, with the New England Patriots

Past Role: Brace was a bench player as a rookie. He was a 4-3 DT in college at Boston College, where we was second fiddle to Green Bay Packers NT B.J. Raji. He was drafted as insurance in case the Patriots were unable to resign franchise NT Vince Wilfork, but with Wilfork's contract extension, Brace was left without a certain position. As a rookie, Brace learned how to handle football at the professional level, even going as far as admitting that the NFL game was "a big shock" to him. As Wilfork was injured in December with an ankle injury, Brace played the bulk of his downs.

In the game against Buffalo, the thoroughly injured and usually unimpressive offensive line ran up the middle at will, averaging 6.3 yards/carry to the left of the center and 5.4 yards/carry to the right of the center. However, not only was Brace facing normal double coverage, but the Bills were also throwing three guys in front of him, in order to slow the rookie.

Predicted Role: With a full year in the system, and a more defined role in the defense, Brace should become a part of the rotation at defensive end. Brace should play defensive end on running downs, splitting downs with Gerard Warren, and Brace should come off the field on obvious passing downs for a better pass rusher. Brace should also remain on the field when the defense plays the 4-3 defense.

Also, look for Brace to come on the field to give Ty Warren breaks at Left Defensive End and Vince Wilfork at Nose Tackle.

Predicted Season Numbers: 2 Starts, 14 Games Played. 25 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble.

Predicted Depth Chart: #2 LDE, #3 RDE, #2 NT, #2 DT

Summary: Look for Brace to see greater playing time this upcoming season as he becomes an active member in the defensive line rotation. He'll be the top back-up for many positions and should prove invaluable as a DE in the 3-4, and a DT in the 4-3 as either Derrick Burgess or Jermaine Cunningham moves up from OLB to DE.