BOSTON (CBS) — If Alan Branch and Bill Belichick are having issues, he’s not letting anyone know about it. The Patriots defensive tackle, perhaps wisely, declined to address his reduced playing time to start the 2017 season.

“That’s something you’ll have to ask Bill,” he told reporters on Wednesday, via the Boston Sports Journal’s Christopher Price. “That’s not my pay grade or for me to talk about. That’s a question to ask Bill.”

Branch played just six snaps (9 percent) in last Sunday’s win over the Saints, after he got a normal workload of 42 snaps (62 percent) in Week 1 against the Chiefs. The typically slow-starting defensive tackle remains confident that he will put in enough work to earn an increased workload over the course of the season, citing offseason practice restrictions as slowing his progress.

“Having more plays and having more consistent, day-in-day-out football makes it a lot easier. In the offseason, you can’t put on pads and hit your local grocery store clerk in practice playing three-technique. You can but you might get arrested,” joked Branch. “But that’s the plan. Just get better throughout the year and peak at the right time.”

Branch’s snap count plummeted to the point where Belichick could be sending him a message and he could even be on the way out in Foxboro. But it’s possible that the head coach is simply waiting until Branch is fully in game shape and ready to contribute at his usual level. One thing’s certain: neither will be answering any specific questions about it.


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