Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them. Welcome to the third edition of the Patriots Kick-Off series. There are 97 days until the New England Patriots face-off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, so we are going to profile the owner of the No. 97 jersey, defensive tackle Alan Branch.
Drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Branch played for two other teams (Seattle and Buffalo) before earning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots in 2014. In his eight seasons, Branch has racked up 183 tackles and eight sacks.
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After signing with the Patriots in mid-October of 2014, Branch proved to be an important cog in the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning defense, especially in the postseason. He played a major role in helping to prevent Marshawn Lynch from single-handedly destroying the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, as evidenced by his three tackles in the big game.
The Michigan product impressed the Patriots brass enough for the team to ink him to a two-year, $6.6 million deal in March. At this point in his career, Branch offers a nice blend of production potential and mentoring ability for young bucks Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown.
Branch ought to figure prominently into the front seven this season. Over at Ourlads.com, Branch is listed as the starting defensive tackle alongside Sealver Siliga and ahead of Easley and Brown. That may change before Week 1, but it’s clear that the Patriots value Branch.
The latest news on Branch was his absence from OTAs yesterday.
Tomorrow, check back on Musket Fire as we celebrate 96 days until Patriots open 2015 by profiling No. 96, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.