|With help from Brady, Branch settling back in with Patriots||10.15.10 at 12:22 am ET|
FOXBORO — The pure emotion of the cross-country move has worn off. The new equipment has been broken in, the meet-and-greet with the new teammates has been completed and the contract has been re-done.
Now, the real work begins. As of Thursday night, Deion Branch now has three practice sessions with his new/old team under his belt. He said Thursday that, so far, everything has gone well.
Well enough to play on Sunday?
“That’s my job. I think physically, I am,” Branch said after practice on Thursday. “Mentally, as far as the preparation without the plays and stuff, that varies. But as far as me being healthy and being able to run around, to run for 60 minutes, I can do that. But I’m still going through the motions with a couple of plays here and there.”
One of the things that’s made the transition easier is the fact that there are some similarities between the offense now and what it was back before he left in 2006. Branch has been able to double-check the current playbook against the one the Patriots used before Super Bowl XXXIX against the Eagles.
His daughter found that game plan this past offseason.
“My daughter was like, rambling through the cabinets, down looking for little kids stuff and she was like, ‘Daddy, what is this book?’” Branch said. “It was all torn on the sides, I said, ‘Let me see this.’ And it was the game plan for the Super Bowl when we played in Jacksonville. And so, some of the stuff is in there. Everything is not the same, though. So, even if all the plays are in there, they changed the words, they changed a lot of it, so that’s what I’m learning now.
“But that was under [ex-offensive coordinator] Charlie [Weis] and some of the stuff is still the same. And some of the stuff I do remember looking at is still here. Some of it.”
And then, there’s the relationship with quarterback Tom Brady, which transcends the usual quarterback/receiver kinship. (Check out this video for proof of that.) The two spent a portion of media availability on Thursday deep in conversation at their adjoining lockers, and when Branch met the media, Brady spent a bulk of his time heckling the receiver about his dancing abilities.
“I didn’t think I’d be right next to him. But he was saving it for me,” Branch said with a laugh. “It’s a blessing just to be here. I’m honored.”
“[The chemistry] will always be there. I’ve thrown to him thousands and thousands of footballs,” Brady said. “I think you could pull Troy Brown out of the announcer booth, or whatever he’s doing these days in the media, and he could come in here, put some pads on and I’d be able to throw him the ball pretty consistently. The relationship I have with Deion on the field has always been a great one. There’s always been a natural chemistry. I hope that we’ll be able to rely back on that a little bit.”
It all adds up to one comfortable wide receiver.
“I’m comfortable. I think the emotions will kick in on Sunday,” Branch said. “I had my early emotions once the trade went through. I was excited to be back with the guys. I didn’t want it to turn into a big reunion-fest, like me and coach Belichick talked about. We still have to go to work, and I think that’s the biggest thing the guys are focused on — coming in and getting prepared for the Ravens.
“We’re not going to be sitting around hugging each other all day, about me being back. It’s time to go to work. And Sunday, once we get that first game under our belt, everything will be back to normal.”
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