Branch back with Pats for fourth time; Gronkowski may practice next week

Posted Dec. 13, 2012, at 10:11 p.m.

Wide receiver Deion Branch is back with the New England Patriots for the fourth time.

Wide receiver Donte Stallworth was placed on injured reserve Wednesday morning, and the Patriots announced Wednesday afternoon they have re-signed Branch.

Branch, 33, was originally selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

He was traded to the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 11, 2006, but then reacquired by the Patriots in a trade with Seattle on Oct. 12, 2010.

Branch was released by the Patriots on Aug. 31 of this season, then re-signed on Sept. 19 before being released again on Nov. 17.

He has played in seven games this season, including three starts, and has caught nine passes for 80 yards.

The Patriots also signed wide receiver Tony Logan to the practice squad.

Stallworth caught a 63-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the third quarter Monday night during New England’s 42-14 rout of the Houston Texans.

The catch was the first of the season for Stallworth, who signed with the Patriots last week. However, he never got back on the field following the reception, and a day later the team announced he was going on IR due to an ankle injury.

Stallworth, 32, was at his peak during his first four NFL seasons, 2002-05 with the New Orleans Saints. During his final season in New Orleans, he achieved career highs with 70 receptions for 945 yards.

He played for New England in 2007 before seeing action in subsequent years with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins.

Meanwhile, tight end Rob Gronkowski will attempt to practice this week, less than a month after he sustained a broken forearm and underwent surgery, The Boston Globe reported.

He has missed three games since he was injured in a Nov. 18 victory over Indianapolis. The Patriots have all three during his absence in convincing fashion.

The Patriots play San Francisco on Sunday and then finish the regular season with games against Jacksonville and Miami. While Gronkowski is hoping to return soon, reports indicate that it’s possible he won’t be back until the playoffs.

Gronkowski, a third-year pro, has played in 10 games this season and has 53 receptions for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns.

PATS NOTES: The Patriots made two other moves, releasing tight end Visanthe Shiancoe from the active roster and dropping offensive lineman Tommie Draheim from the practice squad.

Shiancoe, 32, missed the first half of the season due to a hamstring injury. He wound up playing in four games, but he had no receptions. He was a mainstay with the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings in previous seasons.

Draheim, 23, was an non-drafted free agent when spent training camp with the Green Bay Packers. He wound up seeing time on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad before joining New England’s practice squad.

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