After a weekend off, the New England Patriots held their first practice of the week today. The team practiced in full-pads inside Gillette Stadium, starting its on-field preparation for the upcoming divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans.
New England enters the postseason in good physical condition and the fact that the team had almost perfect attendance during today’s practice reflects that. Overall, only one player was not spotted during the session – it is an important one, though: starting defensive tackle Alan Branch.
The veteran missed his second straight practice after also sitting out last Thursday’s. Branch had been listed on the injury report earlier this season with a back injury, but was removed from the list in week 11. He did not appear to suffer an injury since. The Patriots’ first practice report of the week will be released tomorrow afternoon and might provide context to the 32-year old’s absence.
While Branch was not seen at practice, another defender was: cornerback Cyrus Jones. The rookie, who battled a knee injury, returned after missing all of last week and two of the sessions leading up to New England’s regular season finale in Miami.