According to Adam Schefter, Alan Branch is facing a four game suspension for marijuana use. Branch plans to appeal:
Patriots DT Alan Branch is being suspended four games for violating drug policy, sources tell ESPN. Tested positive for marijuana. Appealing— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 21, 2016
If Branch ends up having to serve his suspension, it will be a huge loss for the Patriots; Branch has been one of the team's best run stuffers and among the more consistent players on a defense that has been up-and-down all year long. With Jabaal Sheard being a healthy scratch this past weekend, the Patriots could suddenly find themselves dangerously thin along the front line as they prepare to face backfields that include Matt Forte, Todd Gurley, and Jay Ajayi.
It will also be interesting to closely monitor the appeals process, as it could potentially lead to that suspension bleeding over into the playoffs, depending on how speedily things move a long. Stay tuned for additional updates.