The Patriots defense took another hit as they will be without one of their top defensive players and a starter on the defensive line for possibly four games.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that defensive tackle Alan Branch has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Apparently, Branch tested positive for marijuana. Branch is appealing per Schefter’s report.
Branch has been playing some of his best football since becoming a member of the Patriots in 2014. He’s been a valued anchor on the defensive line with Malcom Brown on the interior. This leaves the Patriots thin at the position with just Brown, and rookies Vincent Valentine and Woodrow Hamilton, both of whom have missed time this season due to injuries.
So what is in store for the Patriots who have upcoming games against the Jets, Rams, Ravens, and Broncos during Branch’s league imposed vacation? The good news in the short term is that his appeal won’t be heard until next week, so he’ll be able to play against the Jets.
But until Branch is eligible to return expect the Patriots to add another big body to the inside. Who is available? Scouring the free agent market, there are a few names that could be of interest to the Patriots. Former Dolphin and Cleveland Brown Randy Starks, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen who spent some time with the Patriots, Kenrick Ellis as well as two players who spent training camp with the team, Terrance Knighton and Markus Kuhn.
With the Patriots defense struggling in recent weeks and facing teams that like to run the football, this could be a costly suspension. The rookies will be looked at to step up in the interim and play some valuable snaps.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Alan Branch Baltimore Ravens Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Denver Broncos LA Rams Malcom Brown Markus Kuhn New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots defensive tackles Terrance Knighton Vincent Valentine Woodrow Hamilton