FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots defensive lineman Ron Brace actually remembers the date of his injury quicker than it takes him to recall which elbow he hurt.
Several times Tuesday, just before Brace practiced for the first time in 2011, he spouted that Dec. 26 game against the Bills when he tore up his elbow.
"It was more like a freak accident type of deal," Brace said. "I was playing my technique, then all of a sudden I couldn't use it. Went to the sideline, found out it wasn't attached anymore and got it fixed."
It might be tougher to remember the exact elbow because it hasn't bothered him in quite some time. He knew it would take a full year to get it back to full strength, but it didn't really bother him during day-to-day activities.
Brace was present for two of the Patriots' three captains practices at Boston College in June — he missed the middle session to return to his hometown of Springfield, Mass., to assess the tornado damage — and there was one instance when he swung his right forearm from side to side with a smile on his face to show just how freely he could bend his elbow.
Brace has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp and was finally eligible to practice Tuesday. The Patriots have up to three weeks to decide to activate Brace to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve.
He said it's been a frustrating process while recovering from surgery, but he understood the necessity of the path he was forced to take.
"It's for the good," Brace said. "We weren't hitting each other, so [the elbow] felt good just by myself standing here. But hitting somebody is a different thing, so it wasn't ready. Just had to get it ready each day at a time."