It's been several years sinceTom Bradyand Deion Branchconnected on a pass play in a game. But that could change this Sunday, when the newest Patriots wide receiver is expected to be in the lineup for New England's home game against Baltimore.
Can the duo rekindle the magic they produced when Branch was a Patriot the first time?
"It will always be there," Brady insisted. "I've thrown to him thousands and thousands of footballs. I think you could pull Troy Brown out of the announcer booth, or whatever he's doing these days in the media, and he could come in here, put some pads on and I'd be able to throw him the ball pretty consistently. The relationship I have with Deion on the field has always been a great one. There's always been a natural chemistry. I hope that we'll be able to rely back on that a little bit."
At the same time, Brady hedged somewhat when asked if Branch is the same type of player he once was.
"I don't know … I haven't played with him in a while. [He was] reliable, consistent, tough, competitive. Those are all the things he really was, so, I wouldn't think he would forget how to do those things. That's what he enjoys. It's good to have him back.
"Yeah, he looks the way he's always looked to me. He's an excellent player. I was trying to get [Seattle QB Matt] Hasselbeck to throw him the ball more, but maybe that was better for us that he didn't."
It's thought that with Branch's experience in the Patriots system, his reintroduction to the offense can be quicker than a player brought in at this late juncture who hadn't played here before. While that may be true, there are still new elements to the offense that Branch must learn, and several of the same ones that he needs to re-learn.
New England's system, as Brady pointed out, has changed "quite a bit" since Branch was traded in 2006. Brady recounted to reporters gathered at his locker the following conversation he had with Branch on Tuesday, the receiver's first day back at Gillette.
"I said, 'Do you remember a lot?' [He said] 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. I know it.' And I said, 'OK, what's this?' [He said], 'I don't know that one.' I said, 'That was one of the ones you should have known, because I haven't even gotten to the stuff you don't know yet,'" Brady laughed.
"There's a lot of recall," the QB added. "I'm sure once he hears it, he'll obviously pick it up. He's a real smart guy, a real smart player. I don't think it's going to take him too long – hopefully before Sunday."
That's not what I asked … Isn't it?
You may have seen that shampoo commercial where Steelers safety Troy Polamaluis talking to a reporter and gives an answer that doesn't jive with the question. Well, a similar scene played itself out today in the Patriots locker room.
When asked about how the group of new and young linebackers are gelling through the first quarter of the season, LBTully Banta-Cain offered this curious response.
"Bill is obviously head of the defense right now, he's controlling the meetings," "He's always had influence, obviously, over the defense. It's his defense, but now he's a little more hands-on," Banta-Cain said. "We're getting more coaching tips in our face because he's in front of the meetings."
Banta-Cain went on to explain that, in years past, defensive coordinators Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, and Dean Peeswould impart the information from Belichick to the players.
"Now," Banta-Cain said, "we're getting it straight from the horse's mouth."
Huh … OK, thanks. Great answer, just had nothing to do with the question.
Wed 10/13 Practice Notebook
For news and notes from Wednesday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.