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Ready to work again, Deion sets up camp

"Deion Branch Will be a impact player this 2010 Season."Another offseason, another left knee operation for Seahawks receiver Deion Branch.

It seems as if that is all Branch has done since arriving in Seattle four seasons ago after four seasons with the Patriots [team stats].

But Branch was back on the field last week for Seattle’s final minicamp, doing individual drills. He didn’t participate in any 11-on-11 activities. That will wait for another month and training camp, when Branch says he’ll be a full go.

“I feel good. Last year (I) did the same thing, and had it cleaned out,” Branch said as Seattle wrapped up its minicamp. “This year was probably a little lighter, not as intense as last year’s surgery. It’s just a normal clean out, nothing major. It’s nothing that nobody is worried about.”

Despite Branch’s confidence that his knee is fine and it shouldn’t be a concern, the April surgery was his third knee operation in two years. And it comes at a time when Branch will likely need to be at his best to ensure himself a spot on Seattle’s roster when the season begins – or, barring that, making him an attractive option for returning to the Patriots, a reunion that has been hinted at over the offseason when Seattle’s interest in him seemed to be fading.

Seattle drafted former Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate in April’s second round because of its need for a playmaker outside. Yet new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last month he saw enough from Branch in a minicamp before his latest surgery to carve out a role for the oft-injured veteran.

“Deion had a really good minicamp the first time out so we had some real good information on him,” Carroll said.

Branch said he could have participated in all segments of the two days of minicamp this week, but trainers didn’t want him to push too hard in his recovery.

“I think the thing is I listen and do what the trainers say and follow the guidelines,” Branch said. “You know the rehab the last two offseason (and) we try to stick to that and doing it that way.”

Branch will need to be able to stay on the field when training camp begins. Carroll’s mantra of competition has led to massive roster turnover this offseason and a glut of receivers vying for only a handful of spots on the final 53-man roster. Carroll said just getting Branch and fellow receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a couple of days last week helped him get an idea of how quickly they are grasping the new offense brought in by coordinator Jeremy Bates.

For Branch, this will be the fourth offense he has played in and third in Seattle.


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