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Alan Branch to open on NFI list, giving Terrance Knighton a chance to step in

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Starting New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch was placed on the active/non-football injury list on Wednesday, which figures to open the door for veteran Terrance Knighton to take his repetitions next to 2015 first-round draft choice Malcom Brown.

The Patriots had their annual conditioning test today, and while Bill Belichick said he was pleased with the overall condition of the team, Branch appears to be one exception.

His condition at the start of training camp in 2015 was also an issue, as this situation was foreshadowed on Tuesday. Branch did not take part in spring voluntary workouts or the team's offseason program.

The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Branch played well for the Patriots last season, appearing in all 16 games, with 15 starts. He totaled 39.6 percent of the defensive snaps, the second highest total for an interior defensive lineman behind Brown (46.5 percent), and finished with 35 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles.

In addition to Branch, the Patriots previously placed seven players on the active/physically unable to perform list for the start of training camp.