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Could Ron Brace be bracing for a one-way ride out of New England?
The battles on the defensive line are always among the most talked-about leading into training camp, and this year looks to be no different. While the Patriots will likely employ a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 looks, the outcome of the camp battles could depend on which front they intend on using more in 2012.
Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork and Brandon Deaderick are locks for the roster, but beyond that, there are a number of players competing for one, or maybe two spots at defensive tackle.
Ron Brace is in the roster bubble discussion year after year, whether it be a result of injuries or simply not living up to the billing as a second-round draft pick in 2009. His value lies mainly in 3-4 packages, as he doesn't bring the interior rush presence of guys like Deaderick and Jonathan Fanene.
Marcus Forston was highly touted headed into the 2011 season, and is seen as a solid addition for the Patriots in undrafted free agency despite a one-game suspension (improper student benefits) and injury (knee) cutting his 2011 season to just three games. Unlike Brace, Forston's best chance at making the roster seems to be if the Patriots run more 4-3 looks and sub packages, which would call for his skill set as an interior rusher.
That role, however, has been occupied by Myron Pryor since 2009 and Gerard Warren since 2010.
Warren was cut prior to the 2011 season, but was brought back shortly thereafter; that may have been a result of the team not wanting to guarantee his salary. He'll be turning 34 by the time training camp opens, and younger options may be more enticing at this stage.
Pryor is versatile enough to fit both the 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, but that's only if he can stay healthy; Pryor has missed 24 games over his three-year career, and was absent from both OTAs and mandatory minicamp.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.