|Another reset of Patriots depth chart at wide receiver||04.10.13 at 4:49 pm ET|
After a busy morning that included the extension of an offer sheet to Emmanuel Sanders and the apparent agreement on a one-year deal between the Patriots and Julian Edelman, it’s time once again to reset the depth chart at wide receiver for New England.
As was the case when we did this last month, it’s important to remember that there is still time in the team-building process (between the end of free agency and the draft), so things can change between now and the start of the 2013 season. But as it stands right now, here’s a thumbnail look at each one of the receivers who are currently on the roster, as well as some possible additions for New England at the position between now and the start of the season.
Julian Edelman: Right now, Edelman is the only receiver on the roster who caught a pass from Tom Brady in 2012. The former college quarterback, who was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2009, has spent the last four seasons with New England, and has 69 catches for 714 yards and four touchdowns as a pro. It will be interesting to see what sort of role he has in the 2013 passing game — he had a terrific offseason last year, and as a result, got off to an impressive start (10 catches in first two-plus games) before a late September injury. Right now, he likely figures as a backup to Amendola, but if he stays healthy, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder should have an important role in the offense and on special teams.
Donald Jones: Right now, Jones figures to be in the mix for the No. 3 receiver spot, but as always, that situation remains fluid based on other possible free-agent additions as well as what the Patriots might do in the draft. The 6-foot, 208-pound Jones is a Youngstown State product who spent three seasons in the league, all with the Bills, and has 82 career receptions. His best year came in 2012 when he caught 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns. Jones has some experience in the slot, as well as outside.
Danny Amendola: The big offseason addition at receiver, Amendola will likely be the closest thing the Patriots have to a traditional wide receiver in 2013. Amendola has worked in the slot and outside, and will likely be asked to do both in the New England offense. The 27-year-old, who had a career-high 85 catches for St. Louis in 2010, has followed an eerily similar career arc as Welker, who blossomed when he first arrived in New England in 2007. The Patriots hope that the 5-foot-11, 188-pounder can continue on the same path that saw Welker — who was a little-used part of the Miami offense before he arrived in Foxboro — catch 100 passes in five of his six seasons with the Patriots.
Mike Jenkins: The addition of Jenkins looks to be a case of the Patriots kicking the tires on a veteran to see if he has anything left in the tank. The 30-year-old, who has had knee issues the last few years, caught 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Vikings. He’s a 6-foot-4, 214-pounder out of Ohio State who has been in the league for nine seasons — seven with the Falcons and the last two with Minnesota. His best seasons came in 2007 and 2008, when he caught a combined 103 passes for 1,309 yards and seven touchdowns. If he does stick, it will be for depth purposes.
Not currently on the roster, but possible additions.
Emmanuel Sanders: While Sanders isn’t technically a Patriot just yet, we will include him here for purposes of this exercise. Like Amendola (and, to a lesser extent, Jones and Edelman), Sanders does have some position experience in that he’s played both in the slot and outside. The 26-year-old, a third-round pick out of SMU in 2010 by the Steelers, caught 44 passes for 626 yards and one touchdown in 2012, starting seven games. In his three-year career, Sanders has 94 receptions for 1,290 yards and five touchdowns. For more on Sanders and his potential impact here in New England, click here.
Brandon Lloyd: With each passing day — and with each subsequent addition the team makes to its receiving corps — the chances of Lloyd’s return seem to grow faint. He was released last month, just prior to the date the team was contractually obligated to deliver a $3 million roster bonus. In his one season with the Patriots, Lloyd had 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns. While he had some terrific moments — including eight catches against Arizona, nine against Baltimore and 10 against the Niners — he was underwhelming at times.
Deion Branch: Branch, who will be 34 before the start of the 2013 season, has to be considered a long shot to return, but it still wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder back on an emergency basis if needed. He ended the 2012 season with 16 catches for 145 yards in 10 games for New England.
(In addition, the Patriots depth chart also includes Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Ebert and Andre Holmes. Ebert was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots last season who spent some time on the practice squad, while Aiken ended the season on the practice squad and Holmes was added to the roster in January after spending part of the 2012 season with the Cowboys. And while Matthew Slater is technically listed as a wide receiver, he’s more of a special teamer.)
|Deion Branch on M&M: ‘Once the ball is in play, anything goes’||01.14.13 at 12:03 pm ET|
Patriots receiver Deion Branch joined Mut & Merloni on Monday, a day after an impressive 41-28 victory over the Texans set up an AFC championship matchup against the Ravens next Sunday.
Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo sent out a few tweets Sunday night critical of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense (he apologized Monday). Branch said it’s nothing new for the Pats.
“It’s always a problem, the Patriots are doing something, it’s always an issue, if you notice,” Branch said. “The Patriots are always coming up with something very controversial in everything that we do. Success brings that.”
Added Branch: “Once the ball is in play, anything goes. … Once the referee spots the ball down and he moves, anything goes from there.”
Branch said he doesn’t expect that Bill Belichick will use Ayanbadejo’s comments for inspiration, as the Patriots won’t need it.
“I doubt if he’ll use it, because this isn’t the first time we’ve heard something like this,” Branch said. “I doubt if he’ll use it. But then again, who knows? He may bring it up. I don’t think we need any motivational speeches for this type of game, for this team. This is a team that we’re very familiar with, who deserves to be here. We deserve to be in this game as well. There’s no more speeches that need to be made for this game.”
|Deion Branch promises: ‘You’re going to see a different Texans team’||01.08.13 at 9:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Everyone knows what happened on Dec. 10 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots dismantled the Texans, 42-14, as the Patriots raced out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back.
Deion Branch had a unique view. He was with his wife in the basement of his North Attleboro home watching the game.
“It felt good just to see the guys doing the things that they did do in the game,” Branch said Tuesday. “You always know it and because I’m around it, but when you’re away from it and you’re watching as a fan, I was very pleased and very happy to see that. It’s really nothing new because we can do a lot of great things if we go out and execute our plays the way we’re supposed to; that type of performance.”
Ironically, in that game against the Texans, Donte’ Stallworth injured his foot on a touchdown catch, landing him on the injured reserve list and setting the stage for Branch’s return to the Patriots prior to the 49ers game.
Did he watch the game thinking he might be back in that kind of situation?
“Trust me, however the marbles fall, I just let them fall,” Branch said. “There are a lot of things you can’t control in life. Trust me, if I was one of the personnel guys, I’d be around every week [until I’m] 40, 45 years old, but that’s not my decision. If I was one of the personnel guys… but I don’t make those decisions.”
This time against the Texans, Branch is convinced the Patriots will see a much different – and better – opponent. He was asked what he thought of the Texans being considered a “cupcake” opponent.
“No, trust me, you’re going to see a different Texans team,” Branch said. “That we all know, I promise you that. They’re a great team. They’ve been a great team all season long. Unfortunately they ran into a couple stumbles but that’s football. Trust me, it won’t be the same team that we played five weeks ago.”
Here is the rest of Tuesday’s press conference with Deion Branch at Gillette Stadium: Read the rest of this entry »
|‘Patient’ Deion Branch comes back and comforts Donte’ Stallworth: ‘He’s one of my guys’||12.14.12 at 12:12 am ET|
Deion Branch was ready to come back – for a third time this season.
The 33-year-old veteran was released on Nov. 17, shortly after straining his hamstring. What did he do?
He spent time with his family, picking up his 7-year-old daughter D’Ahni at school.
‘‘She said, ‘Dad, what happened? Why aren’t you playing?’’’ Branch told reporters Thursday. ‘‘I said, ‘Baby, daddy can’t play right now. I don’t have a job.’ And she said, ‘aw, you’ll get one.’ And I said, ‘I know, baby.’’’
As fate would have it, Donte’ Stallworth, brought in to replace the injured Julian Edelman, joined Edelman on injured reserve with a high right ankle sprain on his 63-yard TD play Monday night.
Branch got the call Tuesday morning from Bill Belichick. While he was happy for himself and his daughter, he felt badly for Stallworth.
‘‘He’s one of my guys,’’ Branch said. ‘‘We came in the  draft class together.’’
Standing near his walking boot in his locker, Stallworth confirmed he injured his right ankle on his touchdown catch and said he doesn’t regret going on injured reserve since he wants it to heal properly.
‘‘There’s no rush, so I want to make sure that I get it back right,’’ Stallworth said.
Branch said Thursday that he feels healthy and right back at home, ready to contribute again.
‘‘Nothing’s changed,’’ he said. ‘‘All the guys just walked past my locker like nothing ever happened, so I didn’t get any hugs, just ‘Hey, how you doing? What’s up?’’’
The Patriots never took down his nameplate, nor did they clean out his locker, leaving his “Team Branch” family picture in his locker. The team took the same approach earlier in the season, when he was cut before the season, only to be brought back the first two games of the season after he was cut shortly before it began. He was back for Game 3.
The Super Bowl XXXIX MVP repeated a declaration on Thursday – he wants to retire with the Patriots and won’t be playing for anyone else.
‘‘It was a long time ago, but that stuff is in the past,” Branch said. “It’s behind us. I think we all need to be grateful, be thankful just to play the game that we play. I’m thankful. I seize every moment that I get. I’m just glad to be back.’’
The Patriots let him go after the 2011 season, making him a free agent on March 13. But 17 days later, Branch returned, signing a one-year contract. Branch was asked what would be his fate this season if Stallworth hadn’t injured his ankle.
‘‘I don’t know,’’ he said. ‘‘Everything happens for a reason and with guys that are patient, stuff happens for them. I’m a patient guy.’’
|Deion Branch on M&M: ‘We’ve got to get it straightened out’||10.22.12 at 12:30 pm ET|
Patriots receiver Deion Branch joined Mut & Merloni with Troy Brown Monday morning to discuss the Patriots’ victory over the Jets on Sunday. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Sunday marked another shaky fourth quarter for this Patriots team, although it ended with an overtime victory.
“We just didn’t play a complete game,” Branch said. “And this is what’s been going on. We’ve got to get it straightened out.”
Branch said that the important thing is that the Patriots got the win, although clearly there is a lot of room for improvement.
“This is the NFL, man. Regardless of how you win, we’ll take the ‘W,’ ” Branch said. “But we all know there are some things that we’ve got to tighten up. We know we haven’t played our best football. And we’re still hanging in there, pulling out the games. This isn’t a position we want to be in. But we want to make sure we are peaking at the right time.”
Asked what the Patriots are doing to improve, Branch said: “Overall, we are working on a lot of different things. We are trying to get better. That’s one thing we are trying to do. That’s the flow of the game. Most importantly, converting on third down when we need to. … Overall, we’re trying. We’ve got to remember, every week we are getting every team’s best. Unfortunately, that’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Branch broke down the Patriots’ performance Sunday and said the team needs to perform well throughout the game to avoid the need for last-minute drives.
“It’s a combination of everything,” Branch said. “What we’ve got to realize as well, if we take care of business in the early part of the game, we wouldn’t put ourselves in those positions. We come out and play the first half and it was pretty good. Third quarter, kind of hit a stalemate. It kind of put us in that position that we were in. We had plenty of opportunities in the game to kind of put that team away and we didn’t. … We put ourselves in a position where our backs were against the wall and we put our best football out on the field to drive down and get the field goal and tie the game.”
|Former Seahawk Deion Branch talks Seattle, Pete Carroll||10.10.12 at 2:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Deion Branch knows a thing or two about both teams as the Patriots prepare for the Seahawks this Sunday in Seattle.
After establishing himself as Tom Brady‘s favorite target in his first four seasons in the league with New England, a contract dispute forced the Pats to ship him to the Seahawks, for whom Branch played the next three-plus seasons before a trade back to New England.
Branch played the Patriots once as an opponent, when Matt Cassel led New England to a come-from-behind victory over the Seahawks in 2008. Branch shined against his old team in that game, catching four passes for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Asked Wednesday what he remembered from that performance, Branch replied, “The loss. Not the game that I had. I think just overall the loss.”
Though he only played four regular-season games under him in 2010, Branch said he enjoyed his time working with former Pats coach and current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Though the respect for both coaches is obvious, veteran receiver had a hard time keeping a straight face as he spoke of the similarities and differences between the highly energetic Carroll and the often monotone Bill Belichick.
“They’re different coaches,” he said. “I think both of these guys have proven they get a lot out of their players. Those are the similarities, and I think the differences [laughs] … they’re different.”
Asked if the difference is seen in the coaches’ energy levels, Branch replied, “Oh yeah, you can see that. You see that with coach Carroll, man. I enjoyed him and he’s a great guy. A great guy.”
|Deion Branch on NFL officials: ‘Enough is enough’||09.27.12 at 10:07 am ET|
FOXBORO — One group of players around the NFL is particularly happy that the labor problems with the referees is over.
Wide receivers have a hard enough job of getting open for their quarterbacks and catching the ball in traffic. We all saw on Monday night just how hard they’re willing to fight for the ball.
But now, after the NFL and NFLRA came to an eight-year agreement, the receivers at least have the comfort of knowing that experienced NFL officials will be ruling on such matters as pass interference and completed passes.
“I think enough is enough,” Patriots receiver Deion Branch said just hours before the agreement was reached. “We just got to go out and play our game. We can’t worry about the refs.”
For Brandon Lloyd, his biggest concern wasn’t with the calls during the play but rather the extraneous activity afterward, that in some cases put a player’s health at risk.
“I think mainly just the missed calls and how long the extracurricular activity is allowed to go on before it’s interrupted and before any flags get thrown,” Lloyd said.
Many NFL players have complained that there was a significant drop-off in the quality of play. Lloyd didn’t necessarily agree.
“I wouldn’t say a decline, but like I said, there’s a lot of extracurricular activity and there’s a lot of plays and maybe call the blind spot that the more experienced referees would see,” he said. “I think that’s mainly the issue.”
Now, this weekend, we’ll see just how much better the regular officials see the game.
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