Branch offering support, not advice, to Welker


Branch offering support, not advice, to Welker

FOXBORO -- Tuesday afternoon, Deion Branch was asked whether he has any kind of empathy for franchised teammate Wes Welker. Branch nodded understanding before the question was even punctuated.

"We give a little of both: space and support," he said of Welker, who's yet to show up for Patriots workouts. "At the same time, we all know it's a business -- Wes knows that, the organization knows that and we have to let them two handle that. They'll hash it out."

Branch paused for a moment before continuing. "Overall, it's our friend. Regardless of the business of it. We always call and check up on him."

Welker wants a long-term deal and the money that goes with it. Reportedly, he may skip minicamp for the sake of leverage. But the receiver's absence won't be derided by those who are present. One would be hard-pressed to find an NFL locker room rooting against a teammate getting paid.

Branch certainly gets it.

Dissatisfaction with New England's 2006 extension offer prompted how own holdout that stretched from mandatory workouts, through training camp, and into the preseason. After an ugly back-and-forth with the Patriots, Branch was traded to Seattle in September of that year.

Believe it or not, the experience may be why some of his comments regarding Welker sound impersonal. Branch said each man's business is his own; it's the empathy that provides clarity, and inspires distance as well as respect.

"I've given him no advice. Wes has been in the game a long time, I've been in a long time. I'm just there for support. Advice comes from his representatives and that's good enough," he laughed. "I'm not his agent."

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”



Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable


Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:


QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)


OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)