New England Patriots: DT Alan Branch did not travel to Tampa Bay

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Alan Branch
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Alan Branch /

Defensive tackle Alan Branch did not travel with the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay for their Thursday Night Game as he hasn’t played up to expectations.

Alan Branch hasn’t played much for the New England Patriots so far in 2017. He won’t play on Thursday night either, as he reportedly did not even travel with the team.

So far, Branch has not lived up to the expectations the Patriots had for him after a solid 2016. Last year, he was on the field for about 60% of the team’s defensive snaps. Branch was the anchor up the middle, but he’s fallen off this season. He was not listed on the Patriots injury report this week, so you know that the decision to leave him behind is strictly based on his play so far.

Branch has not been happy with his playing time, as he said earlier this week.

"“Everybody wants to play,” Branch said. “It’s upsetting. At the same time, it’s not my pay grade to make those decisions.”"

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The Patriots are in Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers in a Thursday night color rush game. The Bucs are getting running back Doug Martin for this game, and now he’ll have one less man to deal with up the middle.

In Branch’s absence, expect Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy to see the bulk of the playing time. Rookie Adam Butler will also see some time in the middle of the field as they look to slow Martin, Charles Sims, Jameis Winston, and company. The players on the edge, like Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr., will also have to step up.

The defense as a whole has been disappointing in 2017, and they will look to chart a new course against Tampa Bay. The front seven will need to get pressure on Jameis Winston and will need to stop runs in their tracks at the line of scrimmage to keep the defense in front of the chains. That will allow the Patriots secondary to, hopefully, bounce back as well.

Next: Patriots projections and predictions v. Tampa Bay

The Patriots and Buccaneers will kickoff at 8:35, and the game can be streamed live on Amazon Prime. This will be the last game in a very busy day for Boston sports, as the Red Sox and Bruins are both in action as well. Hopefully, all three end the day with a win.