O'Brien talks of 'professional' relationship with Brady

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O'Brien talks of 'professional' relationship with Brady

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Bill O'Brien doesn't know anything about the house under construction in Cali, how things went in Rio or why Tom Brady shaves his armpits. The relationship between O'Brien, the Patriots' offensive coordinator, and the future Hall of Fame quarterback is about the business of football. Asked Saturday afternoon how the two men get on, O'Brien said, "I'm going into my fifth year here. It's a good relationship. It's a professional relationship. It's a relationship (where) there's a lot of communication. It's all football. We talk all the time. I think there's a lot of trust and -- again -- you're talking about a guy that works really hard, it's important to him. (He's) a prideful guy so there's just a bunch of trust there and good communication and I think it's been a good relationship."It has. After a somewhat rocky 2009 when O'Brien was in his first year as OC after Josh McDaniels left and Brady was coming back from a blown left knee, 2010 was brilliant for both guys. The Patriots led the NFL in scoring and Brady was the league's first unanimous MVP. O'Brien pulled the levers on an offense that incorporated three new tight ends (two of them rookies), two undrafted running backs and a returning wideout (Deion Branch) that took over for another future Hall of Famer (Randy Moss). O'Brien didn't hold the OC title though. He was just the "de facto." Now he gets to put it on his business card if he wants. But he doesn't want. "We have a really strong staff as a whole that works very well together," said O'Brien in explaining that the title really means nothing. "We're all in it together, we each have different roles. I'm the guy that collects the paper and puts it in the right stack. It's a collaborative effort."With this compressed camp and another new wide receiver -- Chad Ochocinco -- to roll into the offense, O'Brien's got a plateful. Fortunately for the Patriots, their new OC (same as the old OC) has shown he can get it all covered.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

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)