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Report: Patriots DE Brace likely to go on IR with elbow injury

The New England Patriots are cruising into the playoffs, but they will have to absorb another blow to their defensive line.

The Patriots likely will place defensive end Ron Brace on season-ending injured reserve, the *Boston Herald* reported Saturday, citing a source.

Brace injured his elbow during last week's 34-3 rout of the Buffalo Bills, but he won't be placed on IR until Monday, according to the newspaper. That's when linebacker Brandon Spikes is eligible to return from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and he could fill Brace's roster spot.

Brace, a second-round draft pick out of Boston College last year, had done well in his second NFL season. He started in five of the 13 games he played and recorded 23 tackles. He was listed as doubtful to play in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.

Brace's absence leaves the Patriots thin up front, with defensive linemen Mike Wright (concussion) and Myron Pryor (back) also nursing injuries that have sidelined them for more than a month. Wright is doubtful for the regular-season finale, but Pryor is questionable.

The Patriots (13-2) own the AFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage through the conference playoffs.

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