FOXBORO, MASS. - Deion Branch is not threatened by Chad Ochocinco's arrival on the scene in Foxboro. As a matter of fact, the veteran receiver said Sunday following a walk-through at Gillette Stadium that he welcomes another star receiver who has the potential of improving the Patriots passing game.
But Branch cautioned both fans and Ochocinco himself not to expect too much, too soon in camp in an offence that quarterback Tom Brady admitted can be very difficult to pick up for newcomers.
"I think it's one day at a time," Branch advised. "Try not to learn too much. We're in Day 4, try not to learn Day 8 right now. It's all about taking one day at time and get everything right before you can do it fast. It's a big difference when you're doing stuff fast and wrong. We're all out here still making mistakes. Nothing's perfect right now. We're all learning each and every day. Chad's not the only person that's learning, let's be honest.
"It means a lot. This guy's been known for stretching the field, just a great player to have on your team. With open arms, I'm excited to have him. I'm glad he's part of our team and we're not going against him."
Branch, who has played with the Patriots and Seahawks, has played under four different offensive coordinators and says this offence under Bill O'Brien and led by Brady might be the most complicated he's seen.
"It's pretty hard. A lot of guys go through a bunch of different offences. I've been in four myself. It's quite complex but I think if you take it one day at a time, you'll get it."
So what makes it so tough?
"The coaches expect a lot from us," Branch said. "Tom expects the same thing. Guys just have to get into the playbook. It's a complex offence. There's a lot of things that go on at the line of scrimmage. It's varies from game-to-game."
As for the offence in general, Branch said it was great to be out on the field again and working with Brady. Branch and Ochocinco worked with Brady and the first-team offence on Sunday during the fourth day of training camp practices as head coach Bill Belichick looked on.
"It's great," Branch said. "We still have a lot of work in progress. We have to sit back and wait and let coach Belichick unfold everything and then we'll see what we can put on the football field."
Branch was asked if having Ochocinco would've helped stretch the field in the playoff loss to the Jets last January.
"It's a whole lot of stuff that went wrong," Branch said. "I don't want to talk about the past but we beat them the first time with just doing our normal stuff, doing out thing. They had a great game plan. They executed, we didn't. That's why we lost."
The core is back and that's what matters to Branch.
"I think the core of the team is still here, the head coach is still here, the quarterback is still here so that's the main thing, the core of the team," he said. "They do a great job of surrounding the right pieces around Tom."
And what about the impact of having no mini-camp or rookie camp?
"You have to realize we have a bunch of young guys who didn't have the opportunity to go through an off-season program," Branch said. "You have a bunch of veterans who didn't get the opportunity to go through it as well who are starting to see some new things like myself. I'm starting to hear some things that I missed in training camp last year because I didn't attend it.
"It's things like that that you see and that you're going to hear that I'm picking up myself. It's good for me. I'm still learning. The day you learn it all, that's when you need to retire. Jerry Rice, the best receiver in the game of football, to ever play the game, he played 18, 19 years because he was a steady learning. I'm no Jerry Rice."