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Andy Hart on Toucher & Rich: Winslow, Branch Will Be Factors For Patriots

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Patriots receiver Deion Branch (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) and tight end Kellen Winslow. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Patriots receiver Deion Branch (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) and tight end Kellen Winslow. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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The New England Patriots added a couple of players to the mix on Tuesday, bringing in tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and receiver Deion Branch to try to ease the blow of losing Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots Talk Weekly’s Andy Hart joined Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning, breaking down the two additions and previewing Sunday night’s match up with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Patriots worked Winlsow out a few weeks ago but didn’t sign him following concerns about his knee.  While there are still concerns, Hart wouldn’t be surprised to see Winslow see a bulk of action Sunday night in Baltimore.

“I think there is a good chance he’ll play on Sunday. I think they’ll want him to. That will be up to him in terms of getting up to speed with the offense and learning the playbook enough,” said Hart. “His reputation is that he has a pretty good football aptitude, that he loves the game and is going to be willing to put the work in this week. Off the field he’s had some issues that you’d question his sanity, but I think in terms of football there is a chance he’ll get up to speed and be able to help.”

As for his knee, while it should be a concern, Hart adds that Winslow has put up some pretty impressive numbers in the past years with the injury.

“Everyone says it’s a major concern… but he’s played 16 games five of the last six years. Last year he was essentially Aaron Hernandez,” said Hart. “He caught 75 passes for (763) yards. He didn’t have as many touchdowns but had similar production to Hernandez. I think this is a coup for them. To lose someone like Aaron Hernandez, who in my opinion was going to be the centerpiece of their offense, to be able to sign a guy like Kellen Winslow and fill that void is perfect for them.”

Hart also sees Deion Branch playing a role in Sunday’s game, although not as big as many would expect.

“I think he will be a factor. If you remember when he returned a couple of years ago, the Ravens was his huge game where everyone said ‘wow, Deion Branch is back’ when he made a bunch of plays in the fourth quarter to help them win,” said Hart. “He’s probably going to be a 50-percent type guy, not only for this game but moving forward. You don’t cut a guy and then bring him back and make him a key part of the offense. I think he’s a complimentary player, and we’ve seen they want to do things with the two tight ends.”

“Branch has that rapport with Brady; I think he could be signed Sunday morning and show up on the field and make some plays with Brady,” added Hart.

With two more options added to the offense, it brings it to question how it will play into Wes Welker’s “diminishing role” in the offense — although Hart has an easy explanation for it.

“I know that’s been a great debate and there have been thousands of theories out there. I think the most obvious one is they want to run the football, and they must assume or think that (Julian) Edelman is the better run blocker,” said Hart. “Through two weeks it’s clear they want to establish the run. To me, that’s the most logical answer to that debate.”

“When did snaps and playing time become the be-all, end-all? He did have 100 yards and a couple big catches. In the old days people would have looked at his stats and said ‘he had 95 yards, that’s a good day for Welker’ instead of ‘oh, he was only in 65-percent of the snaps’” joked Hart. “Soon we’ll be counting how many strides he took before catching the football.”

Also, what does Hart think about the Ravens going no-huddle on offense? And how big of a week is this for the Patriots defense? Listen to Andy Hart on Toucher & Rich for all of that and more!

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