New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch was only on the field for 12 snaps in the loss to the Carolina Panthers. Against the New Orleans Saints, he played only six.
He’s less than thrilled.
“Everybody wants to play,” Branch said, per NBC’s Mike Giardi. “It’s upsetting. At the same time, it’s not my pay grade to make those decisions.”
In 2016, Branch posted a career-high 49 tackles. The Patriots eventually won the Super Bowl and only lost two games during the regular season, going 14-2 even though quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the year.
In 2017, Branch has a mere two tackles through four games. He has no sacks after posting 1.5 in 2016. The Patriots have already met their 2016 loss total, sitting at 2-2 on the year. They’re tied with the New York Jets.
Clearly, the defense needs all the help it can get to turn this thing around. Can Branch play like the guy he was in 2016 if he’s given the chance?
“I feel like it,” he said. “But like I said, I can’t do that on the sidelines. I just want to be able to go out there and make a difference in the game. Anybody that plays the game wants to be in the game. I’m just trying to do my best, trying to get better in each practice, get right in the weight room and everything. If I do that, then [playing time] is really up to the coaches. I play when I’m called.”
Could the reduced snaps be throwing him off his game? People often talk about rhythm with quarterbacks, but all players feel that to some extent.
“It definitely is, but if that’s my role, I gotta be able to get used to going in there, spelling guys, putting good plays out there to help the defense get the offense off the field,” he said. “It’s definitely tough because you’re not in the swing of things because you’re not on the field all the time, but at the same time, if that’s what your number’s called for, that’s what you have to try to do.”
The Patriots play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.
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