Brady, Harbaugh both Michigan men

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Brady, Harbaugh both Michigan men

FOXBORO - The University of Michigan was never quite "Quarterback U", but the Wolverines produced a chain of NFL quarterbacks through the 1980s and '90s that began with Jim Harbaugh and ended with Tom Brady.

The two ends of that chain don't know each other too well, however.

I asked Brady on Wednesday how often he'd interacted with the 49ers coach who'll try to stop Brady this weekend.

"He used to have a golf tournament every summer (when I was at Michigan)," said Brady. "He'd come back and it was a big deal. The guys all got excited when he was around. I didn't get too many chances to talk to him. I was just one of the plebes."

Since then?

"I saw him out golfing out one day while he was coaching at Stanford. Talked to him a little bit," said Brady. "He's a tough, hard-nosed guy."

Harbaugh was the Wolverines starter from 1984-86. Elvis Grbac, Todd Collins and Brian Griese were some of the quarterbacks in between Harbaugh and Brady who was the most-of-the-time starter in 1998.

Brady's had a better pro career than Harbaugh did.

Harbaugh, of course, is working very hard to cultivate a hard-ass, no-nonsense persona in the NFL, so it will be interesting to see what kind of interaction he has with Brady on Sunday prior to the game.

Given Brady's penchant for using slights for fuel, if Harbaugh goes hard-ass, it might not work out so well for him.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)