From the outside, it appears as though veteran receiver Deion Branch is in the midst of perhaps the tightest positional battle of his career, with a cast of experienced and younger players fighting for the chance to be one of quarterback Tom Brady's targets.
The 33-year-old doesn't quite see it the same way, as he admitted on Thursday afternoon that he doesn't believe this year's camp to be any more competitive than those in which he's taken part during years past.
"No, I’m competing every year," he said. "Every year, man, I’m going to come out here—and that’s the fun part about the game—you get to come out here and compete against your teammates, score against the defense and also do some things with the guys you share the same room with. But overall I love it man, I love it."
Branch has seen extensive work with Tom Brady and the projected starters on the New England offense, but has also worked alongside some of the younger, less experienced groups during 11-on-11 drills. To Branch, who he receives reps alongside is not indicative of where he stands on the roster.
"No, that’s the biggest thing before we came in, that’s one thing that coach made clear: ‘You guys are going to be with different groups of guys.’ He wants to see guys work," he said. "It’s not about what group you’re in, just go out there and get your job done. Do what you’re asked of, not who you’re on the football field with. Sometimes you see Ryan Mallett in there with the first group. Does that mean he’s going to start? I mean, I don’t know. That’s Coach Belichick’s decision. More importantly, it’s not all about what group we’re in, it’s all about getting our work in."
Branch doesn't spend time trying to assess his own chances of making the roster.
"No, that's you all's job," he continued. "My job is what I gotta do in the meeting room and on the football field. I think your job is just to critique. Your statement isn't valid [laughs] -- I'm going to be honest with you. I know everybody has their different opinions, and trust me, I respect everybody's opinions, what we all do. But the person who makes final decisions is Coach Belichick."