Bill Belichick: Deion Branch is ‘ready to have a good year’
|09.06.11 at 4:36 pm ET|
If you’re worried about Deion Branch‘s lack of production in the preseason, don’t be, says Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Belichick acknowledges the veteran wide receiver didn’t catch a single pass in the preseason, but Belichick said the 32-year-old has had a “pretty good camp,” and hinted that part of it could be age.
“We had to manage him a little bit in practice but he was, I think, in good condition,” Belichick said of Branch, who had 61 total catches between Seattle and New England last season. “He took certainly his share of reps out there in training camp and I thought he looked good doing it. I think he’s in position, based on what I’ve seen so far and what he has done in training camp and preseason, I think he’s ready to have a good year.
“[He] works hard, gives us good leadership at that position, very smart player, instinctive player, knows what to do, does the right thing and is very dependable. I think everybody in the organization feels good about counting on Deion. He’s a very consistent guy every day. Every time the ball is snapped he almost always does the right thing, does it the way you want him to do it.”
Once reason for Branch’s reduced role in the preseason could be because the Patriots are being proactive about getting younger receivers (like Julian Edelman, Taylor Price and Matthew Slater) and newcomers (like Chad Ochocinco) more acclimated to the New England passing game with more in-game action.
Asked about Branch’s preseason production, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien didn’t sound concerned.
“There has been production with each guy, each day with maybe one more than the other on a certain day or [in] a certain game,” O’Brien said. “But as we go forward here Deion will be ‘ as with all the receivers on the roster: Deion, Wes, [Chad Ochocinco], Slater, Julian, Taylor, those guys are all going to be looked to, to contribute to the game on a weekly basis.”