Warren's return should help vs. run-happy Raiders

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Warren's return should help vs. run-happy Raiders

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Myron Pryor's on IR, Mike Wright's status is up in the air, and Albert Haynesworth's back has been acting up.
For the Patriots, that kind of defensive line depth shortage is a bad recipe for dealing with the run-happy Oakland Raiders. The re-signing of Gerard Warren was no doubt aimed at addressing that. Raiders running back Darren McFadden currently leads the NFL in rushing with 393 yards (6.4 average) and also leads the Raiders in catches (11 for 84). Slowing him down will go a long way toward helping the Patriots defense find some semblance of control over opposing offenses. Warren, released at the end on September 7after what seemed like a solid preseason, doesn't bring the same pass rush ability as Wright and Pryor but he is smart and a tough guy to move. He also plays very hard. The Patriots' remade defensive line with Vince Wilfork, Haynesworth, Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis hasn't made the difference expected. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Tom Brady will play Friday night vs. Panthers

Tom Brady will play Friday night vs. Panthers

CHARLOTTE - Tom Brady didn't merely fly to Carolina because he likes having his ears pop. 

The Patriots quarterback will indeed play Friday night against the Carolina Panthers. Given Bill Belichick's stated objective of making Jimmy Garoppolo's preparation for the season's first four games a priority, it was uncertain whether Brady would be on the field even though he traveled. But with Brady a late scratch last Thursday against the Bears after gouging his thumb just before kickoff, his chances for game reps before his exile were waning. 

Brady made it very clear this week that he doesn't just want the game reps for tuning up and getting knocked around but because he believes it's his job and responsibility to be out there leading the team, regardless of where he'll be the first four weeks of the year. With him feeling that strongly about playing being important for his preparation and for his standing within the team, it makes sense for Belichick to give him reps. 

It's not known whether Brady or Garoppolo will start or how many series either quarterback will play Friday night. 

Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

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Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

Alan Branch has been reinstated by the Patriots after the team suspended him prior to last week's preseason game with the Bears, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch's absence last week, he replied, "It's a club matter."

What got Branch suspended by the team is still unknown, but he is expected to be a contributing player on the interior of the Patriots defensive line in 2016. He started in 17 games last season, including both playoff games, often lining up alongside fellow defensive tackle Malcom Brown. 

Through training camp the Patriots have also used Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Anthony Johnson and Joe Vellano on the interior of their defensive front. Branch, however, has consistently been used with the team's first defensive grouping. It's unclear how a week away from the team might impact his spot on the depth chart. 

Field Yates of ESPN was the first to report the news that Branch had been reinstated.

Brady makes trip with Patriots to Carolina

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Brady makes trip with Patriots to Carolina

Tom Brady traveled with the Patriots to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, ahead of the third preseason game Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.

Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald was first to report the news. 

There’s no word on if Brady will play. He missed the opener against the Saints and, after cutting his thumb with scissors, missed the second exhibition game last Thursday against the Bears, both at Gillette Stadium.

Brady, of course, will miss the first four games of the regular season serving his NFL-imposed Deflategate suspension.