New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch doesn’t have to go under the knife, but that doesn’t mean he’s about to return to the field, either.
“Patriots DL Alan Branch, who is dealing with a meniscus issue, does not need surgery, source said,” reported NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “But he is expected to miss a few weeks.”
This could work out well. If all he needs is time, the Patriots just have to hang on for their final two games without him. If they can retain that No. 1 seed, they’ll be in a very good position. It would give Branch another week off before he needs to come back, meaning he could be healthy right in time for the playoffs to begin. That’s the ideal scenario. It’s also the one a lot of people think is likely.
“This would assume he will be back for the playoffs,” wrote WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois was re-signed last week and played well on Sunday.”
To say he played well is putting it mildly. Jean Francois has eight tackles all season. He got six of them against the Pittsburgh Steelers in that one game. That’s the most he’s had since last year, when he had 8 in the Washington Redskins loss to the New York Giants. Beyond that, you have to go all the way back to 2012, when he notched 6 assisted tackles in one game.
In short, he played some of his best football in the Patriots biggest game of the year. They shouldn’t expect that every week, but he should be able to get the job done until Branch is ready.