Former Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Alan Branch will be important up front in the season opener against his former team.
The Patriots and the Cardinals set the football world ablaze when they agreed to a blockbuster deal that would send Chandler Jones to the desert in exchange for Jonathan Cooper and a second round draft pick that would turn into New Orleans selection Vonn Bell. Since Cooper will not play this weekend as he sat out the entire training camp, there will only be only be one former Cardinal suiting up for the Patriots in their season opener. That is veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch.
The Cardinals drafted Branch with the first pick of the second round in the 2007 NFL Draft. Branch signed with Seattle in 2011, then spent time in Buffalo during the 2013 season before signing with the Patriots. Branch played in all 16 regular season games last season and both playoff games, as he was an important part up front on first and second down for New England.
Arizona’s offense has many options in their offensive attack both through the air and on the ground. If this preseason is any indication, running the football will come easily for them. The Patriots will look to the defensive line and Alan Branch to win the line of scrimmage and close running lanes during the early downs to generate passing situations to help the Patriot defense. With David Johnson, Andre Ellington, and Chris Johnson, the Cardinals are expected to have a three-headed monster in the backfield that can create space and yardage on the ground and through the air.
The Patriots look to be deeper on the defensive front and that will be put to the test this season. Look for Alan Branch to step up and make some plays by bringing some intensity as he takes on his former team.