Belichick praises Branch, Vinatieri

In a conference call with Indianapolis-based reporters on Tuesday morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had high praise for receiver Deion Branch and kicker Adam Vinatieri.

Both former Patriots are now Colts.

On Branch: "Deion had a great career here. Very smart, professional player. Great leader. One of the top guys we've had here in terms of off-the-field work ethic, leadership, intelligence, preparation, all those things. He had some very productive seasons here. He's a tremendous person. He's had a great career."

On Vinatieri: "Adam, when he was here, trained very hard in the offseason, was one of our hardest workers. He worked out with all the other position players and he was never really looked at as a kicker in terms of his offseason program and what he did as far as training, that kind of thing. He was a very well-conditioned athlete. Mentally, he's as tough and as consistent as they come. I can't think of anybody, certainly no other kicker, that I've coached that I would put ahead of him in terms of mental toughness, concentration, focus, professionalism, all of those things. He just did his job as well as he could possibly do it every day that I was here. I was here in '96 when he came in as a rookie and then as the head coach when I came back [in 2000]. I have the utmost respect for Adam and the way he approaches his job, the way he does his job. It really seems like every year, you turn on the film and he's making 50-yard field goals and kicking them right down the middle and doing the same things that he did 17, 18 years ago, however long it's been since '96. He's a great player and a Hall of Fame kicker if there ever was one."