Many NFL scouts on hand for BC Pro Day

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Many NFL scouts on hand for BC Pro Day

BOSTON, MA -- Wednesday was a beautiful afternoon for Pro Day at Boston College. Too bad the event was held inside a bubble at Alumni Field. But considering how much the players can't control when it comes to the 2012 NFL Draft, they probably appreciated not having to worry about sun and wind.

32 players from nine different teams worked out from 11 AM - 2 PM, running the 40-yard dash, completing a three-cone drill, and performing positional drills. BC Eagles were joined by players from UMass, Harvard, Holy Cross, Merrimack, Endicott, Salve Regina, Delaware, and Dartmouth.

Confused by those last few? NFL rules state that, for BC's Pro Day, non-member invitees can either go to school in Massachusetts or hold residence in the state. They just needed recommendation by an NFL scout or coach.

And there were plenty of those.

BC officials noted 34 scouts from 27 pro teams on hand. Representing the Patriots were offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, assistant director of college scouting Brian Smith, and Mick Lombardi. Scarnecchia grabbed the reigns for the linemen drills. It's worth noting he took an extra second to shake hands and speak with former Eagle O-liner Mark Spinney before barking orders to the rest.

Here's the complete list of attendees:

Boston College: LB Luke Kuechly, TE Lars Anderson, DB Donnie Fletcher, DE Max Holloway, WR Ifeanyi Momah, P Ryan Quigley, COL Mark Spinney, FBLB Dan Williams

UMass: WR Tom Gilson, TB Jon Hernandez, LB Tyler HOlmes, TETBHB Emil Igwenagu, OL John Samuda, WR Julian Talley, LS Travis Tripucka, OLBS Shane Viveiros

Dartmouth: RB Nick Schweiger

Delaware: OL Shea Allard

Endicott: TELS Taylor Allen, DE Kevin Eagan

Harvard: LB Alex Gedeon, OL Kevin Murphy, DELB Josue Ortiz-Santana, QB Collier Winters

Holy Cross: DB Chandler Fenner, OL Mike McCabe, LB Ricky Otis, QB Ryan Taggert

Merrimack: LBDL Tony Johnson, LB Shawn Loiseau, QB James Suozzo

Salve Regina: LT Andrew McNeice

Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

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Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch knew he had a good case, otherwise he wouldn't have appealed. It was just a question of when that appeal might be heard. 

As of Wednesday, the Patriots defensive tackle hadnt heard anything as it related to the appeal of his four-game suspension. But by Saturday morning, according to Field Yates of ESPN, Branch had won the appeal and been cleared of the league's ban. 

Branch's agent later confirmed the news on Twitter.

Word of Branch's punishment, which stemmed from what was reported as a positive marijuana test, became public when reported by ESPN on Nov. 21. Per the league's substance abuse policy, appeal hearings are typically scheduled for the fourth Tuesday after a player has been informed of his penalty. The policy notes that it is possible for appeals to be heard on another date should the two sides be able to work out different schedule, but Branch was not optimistic that would be the case earlier this week. 

Good news came quickly, though. 

Had Branch been forced to miss any time, it would have docked the Patriots arguably their top interior defensive lineman. Branch has started every game, and he leads all Patriots defensive tackles with 457 snaps played. 

The Patriots recently waived running back DJ Foster and signed defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, seemingly as a way to build some depth on the roster if Branch had been suspended. 

By having his four-game suspension wiped away not only are the Patriots saved from having to deal without one of their top players in the trenches, but Branch saved himself a relatively hefty financial penalty.

A four-game ban would have cost him nearly $300,000 in base salary as well as four game-day bonuses adding to $100,000. He also stood to lose as much as $750,000 in season-long playing-time incentives. In all, had the suspension stood, it could have cost him about $1.1 million. Patriots salary-cap expert Miguel Benzan goes into more detail about the potential financial impact of Branch's suspension here

Thankfully for Branch, he doesn't have to worry about that any longer. With this situation in the rear view, he can now focus on helping the Patriots win games during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.