The NFL initially handed down Branch's suspension for violating the league's drug policy Nov. 21, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Schefter reported Branch tested positive for marijuana and that Branch had appealed the suspension.
Branch said he didn't know why he failed the drug test, adding, "That's why I'm appealing it. We'll see what happens from there," per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. On Nov. 27, Branch said he had yet to have an appeal hearing, per Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com.
On Nov. 21, the Boston Globe's Ben Volin said the initial ruling of a suspension indicated the fourth time Branch has tested positive for the substance.
Volin provided the NFL policy on the drug:
Ben Volin @BenVolin
NFL’s marijuana policy: 1st failed test: Entry into program 2nd: 2-wk fine 3rd: 4-wk fine 4th: 4-gm susp 5th: 10-gm susp 6th: 1-year ban2016-11-21 20:31:06
Branch, 31, has registered 39 tackles, six stuffs, a sack and a forced fumble this season, starting 10 games. Certainly, regaining a big body like Branch in the middle of the line will help the team's run defense.
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com broke down the team's depth chart on the line:
Mike Reiss @MikeReiss
Patriots "big" DT depth chart: 1. Alan Branch, 2. Malcom Brown; 3. Vincent Valentine; 4. Woodrow Hamilton.2016-11-21 20:10:25
Having Branch on the field will help New England as it looks to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.
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