He understands the reception he could get Saturday when Indianapolis battles the Patriots in Foxborough.
“I don’t watch the sports channel. The only way I hear about the good things and bad things is from my friends,” said Branch. “So far, it’s been 75/25.
“Most everybody understands, but you have those diehard fans, ‘Hey, we thank you, but now we’re going to boo you.’ That’s pretty much how it should be.”
Branch’s career included three Super Bowls, two of them wins, and he was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX and led all receivers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Branch has lived in the Indianapolis area for about four years. His sons, Deiondre and Deiontey, live in Louisville, while his wife, Shola, hails from Chicago. Carmel is roughly the middle point and has been a happy home.
Now, finding a home in the Colts’ offense is a fluid process, a cram course, for Branch.
“There’s a lot of stuff flying around. I think I’m okay,” said Branch. “I’m not where I want to be as a professional.
“I know how I am about getting in, learning the offense and knowing where everybody’s at. I won’t say I’m up to speed on that part. As far as the things they’ve been throwing at me, I think I’ve been doing okay at it.”
Branch has started 111-of-140 career appearances and has a particular way of learning. He had been around
“Matt and I have a lot of time together,” said Branch. “Just hearing the plays (helps). That’s my thing, I need to hear them.
“I know (Andrew) Luck doesn’t have the time to call the plays out to me. Hearing the plays from a quarterback is what I need, and that’s what Matt is doing.”
Said Hasselbeck, “It probably helps that he and I can translate things into old vernacular. I see him working really hard with (receivers coach) Charlie (Williams).
“He was in there for some snaps today with the offense. I think he’s looked great, I really do. I don’t know what kind of snaps he’ll end up getting (Saturday) but if he does, he’s looked great in practice.”
Branch’s history with Tom Brady made an impact on the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
“He’s a great player, one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” said Brady. “He’s the best teammate, just a great person, a great friend. He’s just so smart and dependable, consistent, everything you look for in a football player.”
Bill Belichick, speaking generally and not specifically about Branch, said this week the notion of gaining inside intelligence about a former team is over-rated because sometimes what a player may think is information really is misinformation.
Branch agrees that notion is overblown.
“I will say that. I’m an old school player, and I always learned from my coach back in the days,” said Branch. “You can always tell somebody what you’re doing, but they still have to stop you.
“If that came about, we still have to stop them, or they still have to stop us. If we knew exactly what they were doing, we still have to (stop it). This is the NFL. I’m sure the scouts…they knew all the ins-and-outs about the Patriots before they thought of bringing me (here).”
Branch has a particular regard Belichick’s preparation methods and pursuit of victory.
“It’s hard to give a tip on his thoughts, the things they’re doing,” said Branch. “What I will say is he’s going to do everything in his power, in his will to win the game.
“Over here, we’re doing the same thing, whatever it takes to win, that’s what we’re doing.”
Branch said he is here to do whatever the team asks and whatever happens Saturday is out of his hands.
“It’s (learning) a daily process. I’m here to help out any way I can,” said Branch. “As far as playing, that’s going to be Coach P’s decision. Every day I’m just trying to do my best to pick up everything I possibly can.
“I know I can play. I never retired. I wasn’t thinking about it because I know I can play. I’m glad to have this opportunity to play in this game, to contribute and hopefully have the opportunity to move on to the next round.”
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: NT-