Newswire: Branch, Brooks & Top Ten List

News from around the web includes; New England Patriots and Deion Branch's contract; The Patriots will be alright without a big name free agent; Miami Dolphin's Ricky Williams to play in Toronto and Ahmad Brooks may be a name the Patriots are looking at for the NFL Supplemental Draft

Newswire Items 5/28/06

-- New England Patriot wide receiver Deion Branch is in the last year of his rookie contract. The question that many are pondering is whether Branch will make a statement about his worth and be a minicamp holdout.

With the departure of David Givens to the Tennessee Titans, Branch becomes the Patriot's No. 1 receiver. According to one source, Branch is expecting in the neighborhood of a 12 million dollar bonus while the Patriots are saying that they [Patriots] are not responsible for Givens being overpaid. The Boston Herald reports that Branch appears to be a second tier No. 1 receiver based on his statistics.

-- Last year Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals and Dante Culpepper of the Miami Dolphins suffered major knee injuries. The rehab process of Palmer was the cover page attraction of a recent Sports Illustrated. As reported in Patriots Insider, Palmer says that he is honored to be on the cover of SI.

Culpepper's rehab appears to be progressing. Miami's head coach Nick Saban indicates that Culpepper will probably be able to play at least one pre season game.

-- Miami Dolphins' Ricky Williams appears headed to the Toronto Argonauts. It is expected that the Dolphins will grant permission for Williams to play in Toronto. Williams' agent Leigh Steinberg told the Boston Herald that "I have a terrific relationship with the Dolphins and (Miami coach) Nick Saban has been terrific in his support of Ricky."

-- New England Patriot president and vice chairman Jonathan Kraft won the Pop Warner Award at the Pop Warner All-American Scholar banquet on Saturday. Along with being instrumental in bringing 3 Super Bowls to New England, Kraft also coaches his son's Pop Warner football team. Kraft tells the Associated press "As someone who spends time coaching Pop Warner kids, I see the confidence that is instilled in Pop Warner participants not just for what they do on the field but in their commitment to perform in the classroom,"

-- Linebacker Ahmad Brooks was part of the Virginia defense that gained recognition in the ACC last year. His play headed into the 2005 season propelled the young defender to the top of the watch list for the 2006 NFL Draft. That was until an off-field incident resulted in his expulsion from the football program. Brooks was informed that he would not be allowed to return to Virginia to resume his college football career. Now he will throw his hat in the ring at the pro level through the NFL Supplemental Draft. The MetroWest Daily News speculates that Brooks' stock may not have fallen as far as reports indicate, and the Patriots may be one of the teams interested in drafting him.

Patriots Insider regulars have been talking about Brooks for weeks. Although the character issue has been brought up, if Brooks can abide by the rules, he could be a significant contributor to the team, which is in need another linebacker.

-- Jonathan Comey of Patriots Insider shares his Top Ten list of players who were overlooked but became significant contributors for the Patriots. Some of the names are well known including the team leader Tom Brady. Others have played key roles at numerous times.

The Patriots are facing another season of transition with new faces and relative unknowns expected to fill in. Comey's list is indicative of the surprises the Patriots' roster can hold.

These articles and more can be found in Sunday's Newswire


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