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Branch practices with Patriots
The Patriots new wide receiver was getting a crash course on plays installed since he left in 2006 after they were part of two NFL championships.
“I still remember some plays,” Branch said Tuesday. “They didn’t call those plays today.”
Some things are the same since New England traded him to Seattle. Brady, center Dan Koppen, tackle Matt Light, guard Stephen Neal and running back Kevin Faulk are still around from the offense.
“Wes came in, did a great job,” Branch said with one of the many wide smiles he flashed throughout his 10-minute news conference. “I’m just going to get one (number) higher than his because I’m taller than him.”
Size isn’t the only difference between Branch and the 6-4 Moss, whose trade to the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday created the need for an experienced wide receiver. Branch hopes to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
“That’s the first thing I want to let you all know,” Branch said. “I’m not here to replace Randy. I’m not Randy Moss. I wasn’t Randy Moss when I was here and I’m not here to replace him. My job is to go out and do what the offense asks me to do.”
Moss was a deep threat who drew double teams. Branch is a possession receiver. But both left the Patriots after having contract concerns and said they felt as if they were home again after being traded to their original NFL teams.
Moss said several times this year he didn’t think the Patriots would re-sign him before his contract expired after this season. Branch, who led the Patriots with 78 catches in 2005, was traded the day after the 2006 opener following a 45-day holdout staged in hopes of improving on the $1.045 million he was to receive that year, the last of his original contract.
“I wish it never happened, but no regrets,” he said. “When I left here there weren’t any issues between me and Coach (Bill) Belichick, none at all. We talked during the course of the year. … We didn’t leave on a bad note and I think that’s why it was so easy to return.”
Branch is signed through next season with base salaries of $5.45 million in 2010 and $5.95 million in 2011. But he said he’d be willing to adjust that. He also said he thought it more likely he would be traded last year when he started just five of his 14 games.
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