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- Deion Branch Starts Hold Out

Chris Pokorny June 13, 2006
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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New England Patriots receiver Deion Branch did not attend the first day of a mandatory minicamp due to a contract dispute. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says that it's tough not having the reliable receiver at camp.

"He's doing good. He's in shape and he looks good. As usual, he's going to have a great year," said Brady.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would not discuss what disciplinary actions may occur as a result of the situation, since that's private.

"I'm not going to talk about anybody who is not here, other than I'll say that Branch's absence is unexcused," Belichick said.

Branch is entering the final year of a five-year contract with the Patriots. He signed the deal back in 2002 when he was selected in the second round of the draft. The Patriots have obviously been impressed with his performances, including a Super Bowl MVP award. Last year, Richard Seymour did the same thing that Branch is attempting and was able to receive a new contract.

"Each situation is different. I'm not in Deion's situation now," Seymour said. "I always remained optimistic and hopeful that it would get done but I can't speak for anybody else. Deion's a Super Bowl MVP who has been making big plays for us ever since he's been here."

Without Branch, the top two receivers with the Patriots were Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell. Caldwell is joining the Patriots this season after playing with the San Diego Chargers the past few seasons.

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