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Brace-ing for the worst

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The pending lockout has dominated the offseason with the potential ramifications being felt throughout the league. But while most of the focus has been on the possibility of games being lost - and rightly so - there are other areas that could affect the players in important ways.

A lockout would prevent players from participating in offseason workouts and the teams from taking part in mini-camps and other team-oriented activities. It also would stop any injured players from rehabbing with their clubs and working with their team's medical staff.

The latter point was on the mind ofRon Braceon Wednesday as he took part in the Boston Centers for Youth and Families fourth annual R.O.C.K It Launch into Summer event at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, Mass.

"It's something that's been on everyone's mind," Brace said of the lockout. "I've been at the facility every day working on rehabbing my elbow. If there's a lockout, I won't be able to continue working with the trainers and doctors at the stadium."

That's a situation that will impact every team since each club has a handful of players recovering from offseason surgery. In the event of a lockout, they would be on their own as they attempt to rehab and prepare for next season - whenever it might take place.

That's of particular importance to Brace since the second-year defensive lineman had his season cut short due to a torn muscle around his elbow suffered in the win at Buffalo just after Christmas. He underwent surgery and was in good spirits as he prepared to address roughly 800 Boston-area children on the importance of finding summer activities to stay busy during their down time.

The irony of the situation is, Brace may find himself in a similar position if a lockout prevents him from getting his work done. That was something that was a problem for him last year when his start to training camp was delayed when he failed to pass the conditioning test at the outset, although he doesn't envision that as a problem this time around.

"I learned my lesson from that," Brace said after the event. "That's not a situation I expect to be in again."

After being introduced by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Brace took the podium wearing a huge smile and his No. 97 game jersey as he addressed the enthusiastic crowd alongside former Boston College basketball start Danya Abrams.

"The summer was one of the most important times for me because I was always involved in activities," said Brace, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., and attended Boston College. "I played all kinds of sports - basketball, flag football - and I also liked to draw and would get into a studio to do that once in a while.

"I think those things helped me with my time management skills. All of that preparation in the summer can help you get ready for your next school year. There's a lot of down time and you have to make sure you use it wisely to help you get ready for whatever you want to do. I just wanted to let the kids know to use the resources that are available to them."

The injury made the end of the season even more disappointing for Brace. Watching his teammates fall to the Jets in the playoffs from the sideline wasn't what he was expecting.

"It was a huge surprise to all of us," he said. "We felt good heading into the playoffs and then we didn't get it done. It was real tough to watch knowing that I couldn't do anything to help. But we'll bounce back and get ready for another season."

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