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Branch using local knowledge to help Patriots in Super Bowl preparations

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Bill Belichick and Tom Brady answered questions in front of more 20 cameras and 50 media members Thursday. Their performance will be the difference between the New England Patriots winning and losing Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX.

At a small table less than 20 feet away from the madness sat defensive lineman Alan Branch with one reporter squatting down to his level. Other players sat at elevated podiums.

Branch makes his home in the Valley and used to play for the Cardinals, whose practice facility the Patriots are using this week.

He is far from the most important player on the team but provides a valuable wealth of local knowledge, the kind of trivial facts that allow the Patriots to worry about one less thing during an overwhelming week of activities.

“I love being here,” he said. “I was born and raised in New Mexico and I like seeing my horizons. Arizona definitely has that. It’s clean and it’s a great place to be and it doesn’t get cold so that’s a plus.”

Branch was drafted by the Cardinals with the 33rd overall pick in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft and played for them from 2007 to 2011. His locker this week isn’t in the same spot as it was when he played here but he’s happy to be back.

“It’s not really bringing back memories,” Branch said. “But everybody asks me if they get lost in the facility where the bathroom is. Playing in the old team’s stadium, it’s kind of crazy but it’s kind of cool being in the practice facility and seeing the changes and what not.”

He advised his team on food – eat at Lolo’s Chicken and Waffles – and has also helped his teammates break down Seahawks film the past week and a half. He’s familiar with their style of play and tendencies after playing in Seattle in 2011 and 2012.

Brown didn’t see much playing time this season. He had 11 tackles in 2014 and appeared in eight games but has already contributed to the Patriots Super Bowl preparations.