Alan Branch’s forgettable 2017 season has hit a new low.
The veteran defensive tackle did not travel with the New England Patriots to Tampa and will be a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s game against the Buccaneers, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss.
Branch was a dominant interior run defender last season, playing in all 16 games and recording a career-high 49 tackles. The 32-year-old hasn’t been nearly as effective this season, however, and after struggling in a Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s hardly seen the field.
Branch played six defensive snaps in Week 2, 21 in Week 3 and 12 in Week 4, finishing with zero tackles over those three games. His 81 total snaps on defense this season are the fewest by any Patriots D-lineman.
Earlier this week, Branch told Mike Giardi of NBC Sports Boston he was frustrated with his lack of playing time.
“Everybody wants to play,” Branch said. “It’s upsetting. At the same time, it’s not my pay grade to make those decisions.”
With Branch out and Vincent Valentine on injured reserve, the Patriots will enter Thursday’s game with just three active defensive tackles: Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy and rookie Adam Butler.
Cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) and running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) also have been ruled out due to injury.
Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images