Last Wednesday, it was Randy Moss putting on a purple #84. Yesterday, it was Deion Branch coming back to New England.

Karen Guregian and Ian R. Rapoport team to say Branch’s chemistry with Tom Brady and knowledge of the offense made it time for this return to happen. Shalise Manza Young has things coming full circle since that somber day when Branch’s initial trade to Seattle was announced. Christopher Price has Branch’s arrival buying more time for younger receivers to develop within the Pats’ system. Mike Reiss thinks a fourth-rounder for Branch was a steep price tag but, hey, the Pats were rich in draft picks anyway. Tom E. Curran wonders if this wasn’t just some wish-list pickup to appease Brady.

Don’t look for many changes to the offense with Moss out and Branch in, as Guregian’s Patriots Notebook has Belichick and player personnel director Nick Caserio insisting they’ll be using the same playbook. Jeff Howe says Branch’s acquisition makes the Moss trade a bit more digestible. Guregian says Wes Welker will feel Moss’ absence the most.

Guregian also has Hairgate morphing from a Brady vs. Moss undercard to a Belichick vs. Charley Casserly main event. Young’s Patriots Notebook has Belichick no fan of Casserly.

Lee’s Patriots Notebook has RB Danny Woodhead impressive every time he has touched the ball. Michael Vega has offensive lineman Dan Connolly keeping to his meat-and-potatoes roots, even in trendy Boston restaurants.

And, oh yeah, there’s football this Sunday as the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens come to town. You won’t hear them talk about it, but Robert Lee bets payback is on Pats’ minds this week after the Ravens unceremoniously dumped them from last year’s playoffs. Reiss thinks the Pats are positioned to join the NFL’s elite this Sunday.


Just a few player development pieces as we make our way through the preseason schedule, starting with an eager and restless Kendrick Perkins, who reminds Steve Buckley that most pro athletes want to be doing what they are gifted to do.

Mark Murphy brings us Marquis Daniels’ tireless work to expand his arsenal behind the three-point arc. Frank Dell’Apa has Nate Robinson now completely ready to be a Celtic. Chris Forsberg traces Stephane Lasme’s trans-global journey to the Celtics roster and a second chance in the NBA.

Murphy’s Celtics Notebook has KG schooling the new bigs, and Doc Rivers says they’d be wise to listen.

Odds & Sods

D.J. Bean has the Bruins returning from their 11-day European excursion richer from the experience. Tom Caron considers the trip overseas to be a success, due in large part to the Bereron and Chara extensions.

Joe Haggerty‘s bedroom walls must be covered with Taylor Hall Fatheads, as the maiden version of his Power Rankings put Edmonton at #2 and the B’s considerably further down the list. Get over there and give him hell.

In his blow-by-blow account of last night’s Jets win over the Vikings, Kirk Minihane says it just wouldn’t be a Brett Favre game without him throwing a game-ending pick-six. And Michael Felger went all the way to the New Meadowlands last night to find for himself this mysterious safety always over the top of Moss. Needless to say, his search was fruitless.

Tomorrow is cross-over day and Morning Links may be a bit late. Be patient, and, as we advise every day, check back here for the latest on breaking events on the field, on the air, and in the press.


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