New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch doesn’t play an overwhelming number of defensive snaps at age-32, but the snaps he does play are often critical and that’s what would make losing him on Monday night against the Miami Dolphins tough to swallow.
Branch had to leave the game in the first period against the Dolphins with a knee injury. Shortly after he came off the field and went into the blue medical tent on the sideline for further evaluation, the Patriots announced that he was questionable to return.
Luckily for New England, Branch was only out a short time before he was able to reenter the game and make a critical stop to force a Dolphins punt.
Prior to Monday night, Branch had appeared in 11 games for the Patriots in 2017 and made 5 starts. In those 11 games, he’s played nearly 23 snaps a game and that’s often in early-down and short-yardage situations.
At 6-foot-6 and 324 pounds, Branch occupies a lot of space and has proven to have considerable value in the Patriots defense because of that fact. However, Branch had issues this season with a lack of playing time, as Belichick chooses to reduce his role from time-to-time based on matchup.
But Belichick certainly wanted him to be a part of the gameplan on Monday night and losing him for an extended period of time would surely impact how the Patriots opt to defend the Dolphins rushing attack.
Branch appeared hobbled still even after making a run stuff when he had returned to the game. So expect the Patriots to continue to monitor his status and to possibly limit his reps to important short-yardage situations.
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