Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Branch falling back into place in Patriots' offense


The New England Patriots entered the regular season relatively thin at receiver, parting ways with a plethora of training camp wideouts in favor of a tight end-heavy offense.

But with all-purpose offensive weapon Aaron Hernandez out for a handful of weeks to injury, the Patriots needed to bolster its pass-catching corps. So in comes Deion Branch, a former Patriot Super Bowl MVP who was cut before the season, early last week.

Branch caught just two passes for 11 yards but was in on 44 plays (26 pass, 18 run) in New England's loss to Baltimore Ravens Sunday, according to ProFootballFocus.

"It’s interesting because Deion during the course of the game played multiple positions and I think his ability to do that was really a plus for us the other night," Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told the media Tuesday.

"He made a couple adjustments in plays at the line of scrimmage, or right after the ball was snapped, that really helped our situation there. One in the two-minute situation where they blitzed the weak corner and he and Tom [Brady] were on the same page and there were two other adjustments that he made as well."

Branch got a decent amount of work Sunday with little preparation, so his role will likely expand even more in the coming weeks.

"Deion embraced his role during last week’s preparation and was ready to go when we needed him to," McDaniels said. "We needed him to help us in multiple different ways and he was up to the challenge the other night."

What will be most interesting is what New England plans to do with Branch when Hernandez returns in a few weeks.

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