Branch was itching to return to Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was released on Nov. 17 for the second time this season, being away from the game wasn't as hard as explaining to his children why he wasn't playing.

Branch said he was picking up his 7-year old daughter D'ahni from school recently when one of her friends asked her why she didn't see Branch playing on television.

The 33-year old father shuffled his daughter into his car, where he had to explain the situation.

"Daddy can't play right now. I don't have a job," Branch told his daughter. "I have to go to rehab."

Her reaction mirrored that of most observers of the team, who figured Branch would be back once he recovered from his mid-season hamstring injury.

"You'll get (a job)," D'ahni told her father.

"I know, baby," Branch responded.

After being re-signed by the Patriots this week, Branch laments the fact that he can only drop off and pick his daughters up from school on Tuesdays, his off-day. However, he admitted on Thursday that he was itching to get back to work.

"I think after about three weeks, I'm like 'OK, it's about time to go back to work.' My wife and my daughters, all those female (hormones)," Branch cracked. "All the hormones just building. I'm in the house with three women."

Even watching the Patriots' last four games from home, Branch tried to stay mentally sharp.

"I understand what's going on when I'm watching plays. We still have a lot of work to do. I can still see the plays where we're messing up," he said. "From the plays that I remember, other than the new plays, I can see what his reads are. It's amazing for me to do that and see the play form."

As for his injury, Branch said he "feels good," but noted that every player is dealing with some sort of ailment at this point in the season.

"I'm stepping in as if I never left," Branch said. "I always knew that I would play, once I got my stuff together, got my body right. I knew I would play."