The New England Patriots are forced to start their 2016 season without their best player. Quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games for his alleged – but never proven – role in an alleged – but never proven – football deflation scheme.
Brady might not be the only player being forced to start the year on the sidelines because of a suspension, though. According to Doug Kyed, veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch has informed his teammates today that he has been suspended:
Patriots DT Alan Branch has notified teammates he's been suspended, according to sources informed of the situation. Awaiting more details.
While Branch’s suspension is not as big a blow to the Patriots as Brady’s, it still hurts the team no matter the length. After all, the 31-year old was a starter on the defensive line last season and appeared in all 18 of New England’s games while playing 40.4% of defensive snaps.
As Kyed noted, he does not yet have all the details of the situation. Why has Branch been suspended? For how long? And by whom, the league or the team? Make sure to check back to Pats Pulpit, we will keep you updated as more details emerge.
[UPDATE 5:51 pm] Mike Reiss, one of the best informed people when it comes to the Patriots, has been told that Branch has been suspended by the team and not the NFL:
I'm told this is a team-based issue, not with the NFL. More details needed to learn complete context of situation.
[UPDATE 6:00 pm] Jeff Howe offers more details about the suspension and its length:
Alan Branch has been suspended "a few days" for violating team rules, per source. @DougKyed first reported Branch's suspension.
If Howe’s sources are correct, Branch will be back with the team soon. Still, given the tight ship head coach Bill Belichick runs in Foxboro, the veteran has to be careful to not come close to stepping out of the line again. Otherwise, he might be out of a job soon – no matter if he was a starter just one year ago.