Brady: Great to see Branch back

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Deion Branch is one of Tom Brady's favorite targets, so it's no surprise the Patriots quarterback was ecstatic upon hearing the news of Branch's return to the team.

"Deion has been a great player here for a long time," Brady said Wednesday. "It's always great to see him back. I was hoping it would happen. There's just a lot of stability -- he's dependable, consistent. We'll see what kind of role he plays."

Brady said that he just met his other new target -- tight end Kellen Winslow -- on Tuesday.

"I'm excited to get out there and practice with him today and I think he's eager to get started too," he said.

As for what the Patriots lose when tight end Aaron Hernandez isn't on the field, Brady said, "Aaron has been a huge contributor for us. Every time he's in there, he seems to be making plays. We'll see how it goes without him, or with him, I don't know."

Asked about the media-driven attention to Wes Welker's role with the team (he played fewer snaps than Julian Edelman on Sunday), Brady said he doesn't pay attention to such buzz.

"I love Wes and he's a great player on this team, and has been since the day he arrived," he said. "Nothing's changed in my mind."

As for Edelman, whom offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday has earned the right to play, Brady offered praise.

"He's really worked hard and put himself in a position to get opportunities. I have a lot of confidence in Julian and his abilities," Brady said. "He made some really key plays for us last game."