|10.12.10 at 4:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO - Deion Branch had a feeling that a return to New England was a possibility.
Why not? He maintained a good relationship with Bill Belichick, always understood that Business First is how it goes in Foxboro. No hard feelings from 2006, though he wishes leaving the Patriots “never happened.” And he knew that there might be a time when it made business and football sense for the Patriots to bring him back to the place where he won a Super Bowl MVP and made 213 catches, good for 13th on the all-time list.
A reunion was always in the back of Branch’s mind.
He just never thought it was going to be this year.
“I thought last year more than this year, actually,” said Branch on Tuesday. “Probably the year before that, too. I actually thought that last year [a trade] could happen a little bit more … it’s hard to say in this business what happens. I’m sure they asked Moss the same thing [in Minnesota]. So much stuff happens during the course of time you’re playing this game. You have to take it with a grain of salt and keep moving. Things can happen and there will be changes on every team, every year.”
And that change happened Monday, and now Branch is back with the franchise he started his career with in 2002. The timing of the trade for the wideout might seem obvious at first glance, but Branch wanted to make it clear that he’s not here to fill the shoes of Randy Moss, who leaves New England after the most prolific three-year TD reception total in NFL history.
“That’s the first thing I want to let you all know — I am not Randy Moss,” said Branch, who participated in practice on Tuesday and will wear No. 84. “I wasn’t Randy Moss when I was here and I’m not here to replace him. I’m going to do what the offense asks of me and that’s what I’ll do … I’m just a piece of the puzzle. I’m not the answer to anything. I’m just a piece of the puzzle.”
|10.12.10 at 1:45 pm ET|
Wearing No. 84, Branch walked onto the field with practice field with Tom Brady. The Patriots dealt a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft for the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, who ranks 13th in franchise history with 213 catches.
In other practice news, Fred Taylor (foot) was not spotted on the field but cornerback Terrence Wheatley (foot) and defensive lineman Mike Wright were on the field. Wheatley has not played in a game or practiced since injuring his foot in the preseason.
|10.12.10 at 12:57 pm ET|
The Patriots made the acquisition of wide receiver Deion Branch official, announcing that the trade with the Seahawks had been completed in exchange for an undisclosed draft choice, reportedly the better of the team’s two fourth-round picks in the 2011 draft. In order to free a roster spot for Branch, the Patriots placed tackle Nick Kaczur on injured reserve with a back injury.
Branch, the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, is expected to practice with the Patriots this afternoon. He had started three games for Seattle this year, catching 13 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown.
Kaczur, a mainstay of the offensive line, has missed all of the Patriots’ preseason and regular season games this year after suffering an injury in training camp. The 2005 third-rounder had started at least 13 games in each of the previous three seasons.
|10.12.10 at 12:30 pm ET|
No reason to bury the lede — Deion Branch was not seen in the locker room (media had access from 11:15-noon). There was, however, confirmation from several Patriots that Branch was at Gillette Stadium undergoing a physical this morning. It appears that he will be wearing No. 84 and will be using the locker next to Tom Brady. There is a chance Branch will speak to the media after practice this afternoon.
The news of Branch’s return was welcomed by the few players who spoke to the media Wednesday morning, including Dan Koppen, who played with the wideout during his first tenure in New England.
“I’m excited, Deion’s a good player, a good guy,” said Koppen. “A good guy to have in the locker room. Another guy to throw the ball to. Just a good player, made a lot of plays for us in big-time games. You want those kind of players on your team.”
Julian Edelman hasn’t been the factor in the offense that many predicted — and the addition of a wideout with Day One chemistry with Brady might not help him get more touches — but he’s on board with the acquisition.
“He’s been here when they won Super Bowls and I’m going to be able to learn from another guy, another veteran. We’re happy to have him.
I watched some of his film in the offseason, he’s a phenomenal playmaker. He’s a guy that you strive to try and be like. We have the same size and stature, you know. He’s going to be awesome to have here.”
Kevin Faulk – who said his impending ACL surgery is a couple of weeks away — feels the Branch move is “about the game. Guys go, guys come back to places. He’s familiar with the organization and offense.”
The other popular topic was Monday night’s Vikings-Jets game and the performance of Randy Moss. Koppen said he didn’t watch the game — “I slept” — but Edelman tuned in for the first three quarters and said he was “rooting for Moss.”
“It’s always good to see Randy,” said Edelman. “He’s taught me a bunch, I learned a lot from him, played with him. It was good to see him get that long touchdown, always want him to do well.”
Faulk called Moss “his best friend” and said he watched the entire game.
“A lot easier when you don’t have to get up as early anymore,” Faulk said with a laugh.
|10.12.10 at 12:29 pm ET|
The 1972 Dolphins can rest easy. Parity rules in the NFL and for the first time since 1970, there are no 4-0 teams. However, there are some teams that are finally starting to pull away and look like the league’s best. For the second straight week, the Baltimore Ravens are No. 1, the New York Jets are No. 2, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are No. 3 in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The Ravens have three big road wins, two against divisional opponents, and they look like the most complete team in the NFL. The Jets are enjoying a 3-0 record in the AFC East and are playing well in all three phases of the game.
After a long run, the Saints fall out of the top five to No. 7. Drew Brees has thrown five interceptions already and is certainly feeling the effects of a weak running game. The Giants squeeze into the top ten at No. 9 after back-to-back wins and a defensive line that has looked dynamic.
The Cowboys drop all the way to No. 20 after another mistake-ridden game. Wade Phillips and Dallas’ coaching staff have done a horrendous job to this point. Dallas has yet to win at home in 2010. Another underachieving team is the Cincinnati Bengals. After an amazing 2009 season, the Bengals have been awful this season and are going into Week 6 having suffered back-to-back losses to the Browns and Bucs.
The Panthers and the Bills remain winless and in the cellar.
2. (2) 4-1 Through five weeks, this Jets team looks as good as advertised. The Jets have posted a takeaway-giveaway differential of 11; that leads the league. This team has turned the ball over just once this season. Meanwhile, quarterback Mark Sanchez has thrown zero interceptions. Last year, he had 20.
3. (3) 3-1 The Steelers will be licking their chops Sunday when a rookie quarterback will lead a struggling offense into Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s defense is one of the best in the league and with Ben Roethlisberger returning, the Steelers are in great position to do some damage as the season progresses.
4. (5) 4-1 The first-place Atlanta Falcons have put together a nice winning streak after losing in Week 1 to the Steelers. One of the keys to Atlanta’s success has been scoring points off their takeaways. The team’s rushing attack, led by Michael Turner, is second only to the New York Jets.
5. (8) 3-2 The Colts proved they can win without Peyton Manning having a Peyton Manning-like game. Against the Chiefs, it was Indy’s defense that stepped up in the red zone. The Colts also allowed just a field goal following a Manning interception that put Kansas City in great field position.
|10.12.10 at 7:33 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and made his first public comments since the Patriots traded Randy Moss to the Vikings last week.
Brady denied the report of a confrontation with Moss, saying: “I love the guy as a person, as a player. I don’t think I’ve ever had an altercation with a teammate. I think you command a certain level of respect in the locker room. I think that’s the culture of our team. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any players in our locker room fight. That’s just not the way it is.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Is Charley Casserley’s report true? Did you and Randy go toe-to-toe, have to be separated and eventually exchange some grooming insults?
No, certainly not. I don’t know why these things come about, but they do. I think it’s just a competitive media culture out there now. There’s certainly, between Randy and I ‘ I love the guy as a person, as a player. I don’t think I’ve ever had an altercation with a teammate. I think you command a certain level of respect in the locker room. I think that’s the culture of our team. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any players in our locker room fight. That’s just not the way it is.
Based on the evolution of this offense, do you suspect that was a problem in Randy’s mind, in that he was becoming more of a decoy and less of a deep threat?
Well, I have no idea. I really don’t. With all due respect [to] all the different questions I’m sure you guys have about Randy, he’s moved on. He played for another team last night. And we’ve moved on. We had two practices last week and we’re prepared to move on as we always have. And that doesn’t diminish anything that he’s done or has accomplished for our team, because he’s obviously an exceptional player. But we’ve got a season to play. Really, what happened last week in my mind has come and gone. We’ve got to prepare for our toughest test of the season coming up.
How can the offense be just as effective or more effective when you lost the best deep threat the NFL has ever seen?
I’d say that’s a great question. And that remains to be seen with our offense. I can tell you 20 different ways, but we’ve got to go out there and do it. I don’t think there’s any one solution. You just don’t replace a guy with Randy’s talent and ability down the field. You replace it with maybe using the strengths of other players. So, Randy certainly has his strengths. Wes [Welker] has his strengths. The tight ends have their strengths. I think it’s up to the coaching staff when you game plan to determine what your players do the best, and those are the things that you ultimately do.
|10.12.10 at 7:20 am ET|
During his weekly appearance with the Dennis & Callahan Show, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said the report by CBS NFL analyst Charley Casserly that the QB had a heated confrontation with Randy Moss prior to the trade of the wide receiver wasn’t accurate.
“No, certainly not. I don’t know why these things come about, but they do. I think it’s just a competitive media culture out there now,” said Brady. “I love [Moss] as a person, as a player. I don’t think I’ve ever had an altercation with a teammate. I think you command a certain level of respect in the locker room. I think that’s the culture of our team. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any players in our locker room fight. That’s just not the way it is.”
Brady later continued, attempting to move on from the conversation regarding Moss, “He’s moved on. He played for another team last night. And we’ve moved on. We had two practices last week and we’re prepared to move on as we always have. And that doesn’t diminish anything that he’s done or has accomplished for our team, because he’s obviously an exceptional player. But we’ve got a season to play. Really, what happened last week in my mind has come and gone. We’ve got to prepare for our toughest test of the season coming up [against Baltimore].”
Brady explained that he was not consulted when the Patriots traded Moss to Minnesota, saying, “Certainly not. I’m a player on this team. I’m just like all the other players.”
The quarterback, who said he watched the first quarter of the Jets victory over Moss’ Vikings Monday night, wouldn’t divulge what he wrote in the text message the wide receiver mentioned after his new team’s loss, only commenting, “That’s between he and I. Like I said, he’s something special. He certainly will be missed, but we’ve go to move on.”
Brady said he couldn’t give specific examples how the offense might change without Moss, but insisted that the Patriots will still take their fair share of shots down the field.
“I still think we have a lot of confidence that we can move the football … I think we still have some explosive players in the passing game, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.” he explained.
Brady — who said he never had a conversation with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick about potentially acquiring wideout Deion Branch — later went on to say, “I don’t think we’ve ever been gun-shy about taking shots down the field ‘¦ It’s not like we’re going to throw three-yard passes all day. That’s not our offense.”
As for how much work Branch had cut out for him prior to the Patriots’ game against the Ravens Sunday, Brady commented, “I’m not sure how much Deion has retained over the years. Deion is a very smart player. He is going to certainly have his work cut out for him. I would say things aren’t exactly the way they were when he left … I’m sure there will be a pretty steep learning curve for him.”
Regarding the Patriots’ next opponent, Baltimore, Brady called the Ravens’ victory over the Pats in the playoff game last season as “probably the worst beating we’ve had in a long time.” But he then defended New England’s chances, pointing out, “If you guys don’t think we can do any better than that, then maybe you guys shouldn’t watch. I certainly think we can do better.”
For more Patriots coverage, see the team page at weei.com/patriots.
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