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."
Football is coming.
The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.
Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.
The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.
The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.
Tom Brady's off-the-field workout habits are the subject of serious curiosity for those in New England and beyond. Thanks to Under Armour's Instagram account, followers got a brief glimpse of what Brady does to stay in shape.
OK. It was more like a glimpse at what he did one day in Tokyo.
The video of Brady in the dohyo ring was shot at the Sakaigawa sumo stable in Tokyo on Thursday. According to Kyodo News, leading the training session was ozeki Goeido, who won last year's Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
"For them to welcome me means very much to me. It's hard to describe in words how special that was," Brady said.
Brady bounced around China before heading to Japan to continue to help promote Under Armour and in particular its "recovery sleepwear" line. He threw a pass on the Great Wall, and he explained that it was his "dream" to play a game on the continent.