FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots have produced two big wins in the past two weeks -- over the Ravens and Chargers -- and one surprise has been the presence of rookie defensive end Brandon Deaderick in the starting lineup. A seventh-round draft choice out of Alabama, the 247th overall pick, Deaderick has played significant snaps alongside Vince Wilfork and Gerard Warren.
After he was a healthy inactive for the first three games of the season, Deaderick has been credited with nine tackles and two quarterback sacks while seeing time at left end, right end and even as a sub rusher for a series last week against the Chargers.
The 23-year-old Deaderick is from Elizabethtown, Ky., but his home in the Patriots locker room is between veterans Wilfork and Warren. That's where he shared his football journey with ESPNBoston.com:
When he first started playing football: "Fourth grade. Little League. Radcliff, Kentucky. I played for the Bengals. That was my first year, but then I didn't play again until seventh grade. We ended up moving to Elizabethtown and I had missed the sign-up dates those two years."
Why he wanted to play football: "Because I liked to hit."
First positions: "Linebacker and offensive tackle. I really started focusing on [defensive] end in high school."
Favorite teams and players growing up: "I didn't really have a favorite team. Jevon Kearse was one of my favorite players. I always loved LT [Lawrence Taylor] -- he's all about sacks. Warren Sapp. Bruce Smith. Reggie White. All defensive players."
Top memories at Elizabethtown High School: "Beating our rival for the first time in seven years my freshman year. It was my first varsity start. Big-time rivalry in Central Kentucky -- Elizabethtown vs. Central Hardin. I was 13 and starting on varsity. To win, that was one of my biggest memories. I found out the day before that I was going to start that game. I had just been hoping to be on the sidelines, dressing as a freshman. I saw this guy walking out for Central and he was big -- huge -- maybe 310 [pounds]. He had a black visor, just jacked. I said 'I wonder who has him?' I was maybe 225 at the time and he was right on me [laughing]."
Why he chose Alabama after being one of the top prospects in Kentucky: "The tradition, and the chance to go in there and play in the SEC. I wanted to win a championship."
Top memories at Alabama: "The national championship. It's the big one. There are a lot of teams, and everything can go right for you and you still get cut out at the end. It was a real blessing. I played my role and we ended up coming out with the victory."
Comparing playing for Nick Saban at Alabama and Bill Belichick at New England: "They are two different programs. Coach Saban, he runs a top-notch program, very structured. It helped me mature a lot being there and playing for him. This is a great program [in New England]. Coach Belichick is very professional. I feel very comfortable here, really being around people who love football in both places."
Emotions on draft day after slipping to the seventh round, perhaps due to an off-field incident that involved him being shot in a robbery attempt: "Like I said before, that's over with. The cards fell where they fell and I had to play the hand I was dealt and make the most of the opportunity I was given. I had to make sure that wherever I went, I came in and gave it 110 percent so I wouldn't have any regrets. It really didn't matter to me [where I was drafted], as long as I got a chance."
First thoughts on life in the NFL and being in New England: "It was pretty much a culture shock to me. I'm not saying that in a bad way, but it's the pros. I realized that very quick, to get with the program, keep your nose down and work hard."
Emerging as a starter the past two games with the Patriots: "We're a unit. No one man is bigger than the unit. We work together and everyone has a role that they are given to help the team win in that game. I always said that it doesn't matter when you go in, it matters what you do when you go in there. If I only came in every other play, I just want to help my team."
Comparing Elizabethtown to Foxborough: "I haven't been around that much here. Elizabethtown is a nice place, very community-oriented. It's obviously a lot colder up here. Accents are a lot different. The people are different, but they're both nice."
Summing up his football journey: "I let God lead the way. I've really been blessed. I've seen lots and lots and lots of talented players never make it. Just the opportunity that I've had, I'm just so grateful. Persistence. Never giving up on your dreams. Just working and working and working because this wasn't an overnight thing. Everyone's talented, but what are you going to do with that talent? Just working hard and striving toward my goals, and I'm still doing that to this day. I haven't arrived yet. You can get released tomorrow. You have to constantly work to be the type of player you want to be."