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The return of Malcom Brown should greatly boost the Patriots run defense

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The Patriots missed their third-year defensive tackle on the field.

Divisional Round - Houston Texans v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots didn’t have third-year defensive tackle Malcom Brown for a three-game stretch against the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders, but the 6’2, 320 pound defensive tackle is back in a big way.

Brown was eased in against the Miami Dolphins in week 12, but erupted for a sack, hit, and three pressures against the Buffalo Bills and five stops in the run game, both career highs according to Pro Football Focus.

“It’s good to have Malcom back,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “Malcom works hard. He works hard and he is very attentive and in tune to the game plan. I think after playing last week [against the Dolphins], this week [against the Bills] was just a little bit better for him because of the extra week of timing and repetition and confidence of doing it and doing it at the speed – or, at least in practice, closer to the speed that we’re going to see during the game. So, I thought it was another step from where he was when he came back last week.”

Brown has been one of the Patriots best run defenders ever since he entered the NFL and he’s apparently rounding out his skill set by adding some pass rushing moves into his game. His three official quarterback hits lead the Patriots defensive tackles, as do his 1.5 sacks.

The Patriots allow 0.76 more yards per carry when Brown is off the field, the biggest difference of anyone on the New England defense with 50 or more snaps against the run. While the Patriots run defense hasn’t been great in 2017, they’re far superior with Brown on the field.

Brown is back at the top of the Patriots defensive tackle rotation, followed by Lawrence Guy and Alan Branch, and they’re about to face a Miami Dolphins rushing attack that gained 145 yards on the ground against the Denver Broncos, after picking up just 67 against the Patriots the prior week.

Hopefully Brown and company are up for an encore performance.