Branch a reliable target in playoffs

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Branch a reliable target in playoffs

FOXBORO -- Deion Branch returned to New England in a trade last season. He was used to winning Super Bowls with the Patriots, not losing in their first game of the playoffs to a divisional rival.

But that's what happened last year. Branch has said in recent weeks -- and reiterated it again on Thursday -- that previous playoff experiences mean a whole lot of nothing entering Saturday night's playoff game with the Denver Broncos.

But listening to Bill Belichick praise Branch's game on Thursday, it sounds like the Patriots coach is looking for those past experiences to pay off against a solid Broncos defense.

"Deion's a very instinctive receiver," said Belichick. "He was in college, at Louisville, and then from day one when he got here. He's smart. He learns very quickly. He just understands the receiver concepts and techniques."

Belichick pointed out that timing is everything in the passing game. And they'll need plenty of it on Saturday.

"He almost always does what the quarterback would expect him to do," said Belichick. "He just has a good instinct and a good feel for what the right decision to make is, based on what he's seeing, so that he can help the quarterback, where he can be in the spot where the quarterback wants him to be, when he wants him to be there.

"What you really want is the receiver to come open as the quarterback is ready to deliver the ball. And Deion has a great sense for that timing . . . Those are the kind of things that Deion does, that, I don't want to say you can't coach, but it's hard to coach those things, because everyone's a little bit different."

Belichick continued with the praise of Branch, and compared his instincts to that of Troy Brown, Kevin Faulk and Randy Moss.

"He almost always does the right thing, just like Troy Brown, just like Kevin Faulk," said Belichick. "You can run a play, you can practice it all year, and something can come up in the season, that, it's just not the way you talked about it. It's not the way you've practiced it. And then, what they player does, you look at it and say, 'That was the right thing to do.' And the quarterback saw it that way, and the receiver did it that way.

"Branch is great at that. He's great at that. As was Troy Brown, as was Kevin Faulk, and Randy Moss. Those guys, they just knew where they could go, how long they had to get there, how to do it."

Ordway: Garoppolo has to play in game 4 of the preseason vs. Giants

Ordway: Garoppolo has to play in game 4 of the preseason vs. Giants

Glenn Ordway sits in with Bob Neumeier and Gary Tanguay on the Arbella Insurance Early Edition to chat about Brady's suspension terms, and Brady, Garoppolo and Brissett playing in the final pre-season game.

Patriots place Lewis, Vollmer on reserve/PUP to get to 75-man limit

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Patriots place Lewis, Vollmer on reserve/PUP to get to 75-man limit

FOXBORO -- The Patriots were able to trim their roster to 75 players by Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline without making any eye-opening cuts. 

The team placed right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and running back Dion Lewis on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which will make them unavailable for the first six weeks of the regular season. The Patriots also released linebacker Ramon Humber, tight end Steven Scheu and offensive lineman Keavon Milton.

Neither Vollmer nor Lewis were expected to be healthy enough to begin the season. By placing them on reserve/PUP, the Patriots are no longer dedicating active roster spots to those players, but they have also kept the option open for one or both to return later in the year. Guard Tre' Jackson was also placed on reserve/PUP on Monday. Receiver Danny Amendola is the lone player to remain on active/PUP, meaning he will continue to count against the active roster and can re-join the team to practice at any time.