The Indianapolis Colts have signed former New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch the week of their trip to Foxboro, Mass.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano says the move was made because of a hamstring injury to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and roster spots opened up by season-ending injuries to cornerback Greg Toler and defensive end Fili Moala. The Colts also promoted wide receiver Josh Lenz from the practice squad.
It's natural to speculate that the Colts also hope to gain some insight from Branch on the Patriots, but Pagano downplayed that aspect of the deal.
"He's a local guy; he lives in Carmel," Pagano said. "He's in great shape. He had a great workout. Obviously, he's a proven guy."
The Colts play the Patriots in an AFC divisional-round playoff game at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
Branch worked out for the Colts earlier this season, but was not signed then. Pagano said Heyward-Bey's hamstring injury will likely take at least a week to heal, so he's unlikely to play. Heyward-Bey, however, has played primarily on special teams over the last month or so.
Branch hasn't played this season after catching 16 passes for 145 yards in 10 games with New England in 2012. He was the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season.
"He's a smart guy, he's been in two or three systems," Pagano said. "I think it'll be a seamless transition for him."
Branch, 34, has 518 receptions for 6,644 yards and 39 touchdowns in 140 regular season games.
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