Patriots' Taylor improving, but return is 'unpredictable'

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Patriots' Taylor improving, but return is 'unpredictable'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Veteran running back Fred Taylor was once again among the missing at Patriots' practice on Friday at Gillette Stadium. He was one of three players that weren't present; safety Jarrad Page (left calf) and practice squad receiver Darnell Jenkins were the other two.

Taylor (toe) hasn't played since Week 3 against Buffalo. Belichick said Friday that Taylor is improving but, like all injuries and illnesses, his complete improvement is unpredictable.

"Fred's definitely making progress," said Belichick. "He's a lot further along this week than he was last week. Last week was definitely ahead of the week before. It took him a little while there, to kind of just get going, but now that he's back doing things, he's made good progress.

"It's no different than any other situation. When a player has an injury, you rehab the injury, until the injury is at a point where he can begin activity. Once he begins activity, and there's no setbacks, then you increase the level of activity until the player's ready to participate in the main stream with the rest of the team.

"It's very unpredictable, just like all of us when we don't feel well," added Belichick. "We want to feel better, and sometimes you feel better the next day. Sometimes it takes two days, sometimes it's a week, sometimes it's two weeks."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

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)