FOXBORO — Tom Brady refamiliarized himself with some of his favorite assets last night when the Patriots opened the playoffs against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan and running back James White were back in the lineup after missing time with injuries. Hogan’s shoulder injury, which he suffered in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers, cost him seven of the final eight regular-season games.
White returned after missing the final two games due to an ankle injury that he suffered in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Neither addition was surprising, as White told the Herald during the week that he’d play and Hogan was removed from the injury report Thursday after practice.
Hogan’s return came at the expense of receiver Kenny Britt, who was a healthy scratch for the first time since joining the Pats last month. It shouldn’t be a shock that Phillip Dorsett maintained his perch on the depth chart over Britt, but it was at least made evident with this decision.
Assistants in demand
As teams pare down their coaching wish lists, the Patriots’ three interviewees all remain in play.
The Detroit Lions and New York Giants are still very much in play for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, and the Indianapolis Colts’ two finalists are offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, according to several reports. Linebackers coach Brian Flores also remains in play for the Arizona Cardinals’ vacancy, according to ESPN.
If the Pats happen to lose both Patricia and Flores, it wouldn’t be totally surprising if Bill Belichick resumed defensive coordinator duties. Belichick, who never assumed the official title, did that in 2005 upon Romeo Crennel’s departure and in 2010 and ’11 while Patricia was groomed for the job.
Branch left out
Alan Branch might have seen it coming. The defensive tackle told the Herald on Wednesday that he was healthy enough to play, but he added an interesting qualifier about it being the coaches’ call to put him in the lineup. And when that call came last night, Branch was scratched.
Branch was officially questionable with a knee injury, but it’s worth wondering if he simply tumbled too far down the depth chart. He was benched in Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and last night marked the fourth consecutive week that he was placed on the inactive list due to the knee.
Cornerback Johnson Bademosi, a solid special teamer, was a…