No Huddle: Quick hits with McCourty

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No Huddle: Quick hits with McCourty

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty answered a few questions Friday afternoon before New England's flight out to Seattle.
Literally, a few.
Here's what the cornerback had to say.
What does it take to put the previous wins behind you and play in the moment?
DM: "Just being prepared and knowing what we've got to do this week. The past two weeks don't matter. We're just focused on what we've got to do to go out in Seattle and play well. I think that's what the team has done is, turn the page. We've got things that we really need to do this week to go out there and try to get a win.
"After that, things will fall into place and we'll see what we have to do after that."
A good plan for everyone, everywhere, really. McCourty Zen.
What kind of challenges do Seattle wide receivers Sidney Rice (6-4, 202) and Golden Tate (5-10, 202) present?
DM: "That's one challenge with us... Rice, he has good height and good size, he can go up and get the ball. Golden Tate doesn't have that size, but he does a great job of going up and getting the ball. As you watch you can see he's really made some plays down the field. Just like that play in Green Bay -- it was thrown up and he went up there and competed for the ball. We'll just have to go out and try to compete with him on plays down the field and when they catch the ball on different plays, just tackling them to the ground."
The corner is of course talking about Tate's controversial game-winning "catch" against the Packers. Ninety-nine percent of the nation believes the replacement refs not only got the call wrong, but should have whistled Tate for offensive pass interference.
Remember the replacement refs? Yeah. That was fun.
Is part of the strategy of going against rookie quarterback Russell Wilson getting him rattled early?
DM: "We just try to go out there an play. He does a great job of getting outside the pocket and making some plays. I think we'll have to do some different things. You don't want to just attack-attack him. He's able to get outside, break a tackle; once he sees a lot of open field he has pretty good speed and athleticism to make a play with his legs and then throw the ball. We'll just try to do some different things to attack and give him different looks."
Wilson had a great preseason and won the starting quarterback job for Seattle. But lately he's been having some hiccups in keeping his early success consistent. Five of Wilson's six interceptions have come in the last two weeks. He's also thrown just one touchdown in that span. The Patriots defense was probably salivating after watching Wilson's performance against St. Louis: 17-for-25 passing for 160 yards.
The Seahawks rank No. 27 in the NFL for points scored with just 86. New England is No. 1 with 165.

Branch carries on with productive season after suspension is overturned

Branch carries on with productive season after suspension is overturned

FOXBORO – The first snap of the game for the Los Angeles Rams offense was an inside handoff to running back Todd Gurley. He was summarily stuffed by Patriots defensive lineman Alan Branch for a 1-yard loss.

It was happenstance, of course, that the Rams chose to run right at Branch. But it was no coincidence that the Branch was there to envelop Gurley like an upright sofa. The 6-foot-6, 350-pound, 31-year-old has been doing that all season. And on Saturday, word broke that he will be able to continue doing so, uninterrupted by NFL discipline.

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

Branch, who was set to be suspended by the NFL for testing positive for marijuana, had his suspension rescinded by the league. The league did so without hearing the appeal Branch filed. Apparently, they decided they just got it wrong. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports that the traces of marijuana in Branch’s system were from a previously failed test and did not constitute a separate incident.

It’s been a strange season for Branch, a quirky, goofy, good-natured guy who dances during practices, stretching, on the sidelines and in between plays more than any other Patriot. That’s if any other Patriot actually dances. Branch was suspended by the team for a week during training camp. Reason unknown.

Regardless, his play’s been very good.

“This has definitely been the most productive year I’ve had so far,” he said. “Is it my best? When it comes to numbers it probably would be but there’s a lot of plays and a lot of games I could have done better. I’m kinda my own worst critic.”

Why has he been so productive?

“It’s a good defense for me,” he explained. “The playcalls and way we play goes to my strength to allow me to make plays and I’m making them.”

Branch has 40 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble this season. He had just that lone tackle on the stat sheet on Sunday, but he was a factor even if the stats don’t say so. During one first-half rush, Branch worked upfield with a bull rush, then spun back to his right to get in the face of Rams quarterback Jared Goff, forcing an incompletion.  

“That’s all reaction,” said Branch. “That was a hard day’s work on that play because I kept reacting and reacting and then I was right there. I just get out there and try to cause some ruckus.”

Meanwhile, the would-be suspension caused a ruckus for Branch prior to Saturday.

“I was upset because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “Having my name out there for my family and friends and my kids family and friends to see, you never want to have that on you. But I just wanted to go out there and take it one day at a time and play my best ball because I felt pretty confident that I was going to win the appeal or whatever was going to happen. I expected it because I didn’t see how it could go any other way when I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Asked if the league reached out to apologize for getting it wrong, Branch said, “I haven’t gotten anything yet. I haven’t read any emails yet, I haven’t opened my emails.”

Asked if he cares to hear an apology, Branch said, “I do care. I don’t know if it’s an apology or what (that he’s seeking) but the position I was put in was something else.”