FOXBORO — Alan Branch is coming to the Patriots with a clean legal slate.
Pro Football Talk, via a source, reports that the defensive tackle, who practiced for the first time with the Patriots on Wednesday, has resolved charges connected to a DUI arrest in August that led to his release from the Bills.
The resolution wasn’t critical to the Patriots but rather the NFL, which imposed a Nov. 1 deadline to all NFL players to resolve DUI charges under the new substance-abuse policy.
Branch will still be subject to a two-game fine, with a maximum forfeiture of $50,000 but, barring the unforeseen, will not be suspended.
But as is usually the case, there’s a lot of truth in humor. Brady is 37 and Manning is 38. Brady came into the NFL in 2000 while Peyton Manning was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. Brady holds a 10-5 advantage in the series, including 2-2 in the playoffs.
Brady was asked about what it is about the rivalry that gets him fired up every year.
“I’m pretty self-motivated,” Brady said. “He’s always been someone I’ve really looked up to, studied and admired. He is older than me. Maybe when I’m his age I’ll be playing as well as that.”
Brady then turned very serious and complimentary, detailing exactly why it is he respects Manning so much.
“Every week it’s so consistent, you can just count on a great performance,” Brady said. ‘A lot of people who have played don’t do it on a consistent basis. When you see someone who does it at a high level, I have a lot of appreciation for that. I understand what it takes. It’s not just a daily commitment, it’s a life commitment.
“Every decision you make is a conscious decision to try and help your team win, whether that’s in March, whether that’s in September, November. You just can’t flip the switch when it matters. You’ve gotta communicate that to all your teammates. The competition is always on. It never goes away. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. I’ve always respected him because he’s someone who’s chosen to get better.”
What was very apparent Wednesday is Brady’s understanding of his margin of error when Manning is running the offense on the other side.
“You just know you’re gonna get one of the best offenses in the league, so what that means to me is our offense has to be at our best,” Brady said. ‘You can’t think you’re gonna go out and score 10 points and win the game. I don’t think any of our games have really come down to that. It’s really an important week for our team and all of us on offense have to play our best because we know we’re playing against one of the best offenses in the league.”
Does Brady ever get tired of the hype year after year when they meet?
“You wait a year to play this game,” Brady said. “You got one of the best teams in the league against us and we feel we’re a pretty good team. It’s why you play the game. Doesn’t get any better than this.”
FOXBORO — Newcomers Alan Branch and Jonathan Casillas wasted no time joining their new team on the practice field as both were present at Wednesday’s practice held in shorts and shells on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in preparation for Sunday’s game against the
FOXBORO — Newcomers Alan Branch and Jonathan Casillas wasted no time joining their new team on the practice field as both were present at Wednesday’s practice held in shorts and shells on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Broncos.
Branch, a defensive lineman, officially signed on Wednesday morning — this after being spotted in the Patriots locker room last week. Casillas, a linebacker, was traded to the Patriots from the Buccaneers Tuesday at the trade deadline.
Linebacker Akeem Ayers switched from No. 52 to No. 55, while Casillas took over No. 52. Branch wore No. 97.
Chandler Jones was once again missing, as his hip injury is expected to keep him out about six weeks.
Alan Branch could provide depth for a New England defensive line that has been thinned by injury. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
FOXBORO — Alan Branch is a sizable presence in the middle, and if he’s healthy enough to play, presents as someone who could take some of the heat off a New England defensive line that’s been thinned out because of injuries to the likes of Chandler Jones and Sealver Siliga.
Branch is 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, and has been in the league for seven seasons. The 29-year-old, a Michigan product, is more of a run-stopper than pass rusher (he has just eight career sacks). He’s played both defensive tackle and defensive end — his best season likely came in 2012 with the Seahawks, when he started 16 games for Seattle and had 29 tackles, a sack and two passes defensed.
Even though he’s in his late twenties, he’s displayed a nice durability over the course of the last few seasons — he’s played in 79 of a possible 80 games over the last five years, starting 47 of those contests. If he’s healthy enough to play, he could be the sort of space-eater who could serve in a nice complementary role next to Vince Wilfork, as well as someone who could serve as a backup defensive end while Jones works his way back from injury.
The biggest question appears as to how quickly he might be able to get up to speed. Branch hasn’t played a single snap this season, as he was cut this summer by the Bills after a drunk driving arrest. As a result, there’s a question as to his overall football fitness — he might be a candidate to play more following New England’s bye week. In addition, there’s a question as to whether or not he could still face league discipline for the drunk driving incident.
Ultimately, Branch should not be considered a defensive difference-maker, but instead a depth piece who could work extended snaps over the course of the second half of the season if he proves himself to be healthy and gets acclimated to the system in a rapid fashion.
After fulfilling his rookie contract with the Cardinals, Branch a two-year contract on July 28, 2011 with the Seahawks. He played there for two seasons, including his best year in 2011 when he had three sacks and 34 tackles.
Branch played one season in Buffalo after signing a one-year contract with the Bills on April 2, 2013. On Dec. 23, 2013, Branch signed a multi-year contract extension with the Bills. He was getting ready for his second season in Buffalo when he was arrested for a DUI on Aug. 23. A day later, Branch was cut from the team.
Branch was brought in last week and worked out for the Patriots. He was assigned a locker and uniform No. 97 but there was a delay on reaching agreement on a one-year contract. Reiss reported that the details had been worked out and he was expected at Patriots practice on Wednesday as the team gets ready for the Broncos this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Free-agent DT Alan Branch is here at Gillette Stadium. Look for him to practice today and an official signing to be announced by Patriots.
FOXBORO — When he met the media on Wednesday morning, quarterback Tom Brady noted several times the importance of getting off to a quick start against the Broncos on Sunday and playing with a lead against a Denver team that hasn’t had to deal with deficits for much of the season.
Certainly, one of the reasons Denver has been successful has been its ability to get out to some quick starts and play with a lead. The Broncos have outscored teams 121-71 in the first half, including a 37-19 edge after one quarter. When it comes to the Patriots, they’ve occasionally struggled out of the gate, but have scored on their first drive of the game in three of their last four contests, and have outscored opponents by a 48-30 margin in the first quarter on the year. For what it’s worth, New England’s most productive quarter of the season has been the second, as it has outscored the opposition by a 94-36 margin in that frame. That adds up to a 142-66 margin in the first half over the course of the first eight games of the season.
So if the Patriots win the toss on Sunday, would they take the ball? It would certainly run counter to their approach to this point in the season, and give them an opportunity to put the Broncos back on their heels. Here’s a look at how the coin toss has broken down, and what New England has decided to do when it wins.
vs. Chicago: Patriots win the toss, defer. vs. New York Jets: Jets win the toss, defer. vs. Buffalo: Patriots win the toss, defer. vs. Cincinnati: Bengals win the toss, defer. vs. Kansas City: Patriots win the toss, defer. vs. Oakland: Patriots win the toss, defer. vs. Minnesota: Patriots win the toss, defer. vs. Miami: Dolphins win the toss, defer.