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Deion Branch will miss game against Broncos

Deion Branch

New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch looks upward during NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday Dec. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

AP

The Patriots listed 13 players as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Broncos.

One of the benefits of that strategy: No one has any idea which players are truly questionable, and which players are going to suit up.

In a bit of a surprise on Saturday, the Patriots downgraded Deion Branch to out. He didn’t make the trip to Denver because of a groin injury. It’s a surprise because Branch hasn’t missed a game all year and was able to practice on a limited basis during the week.

In a move that’s not a surprise, the team re-signed safety Ross Ventrone for the 174th time this season.

New England is down four starters against Denver. Linebacker Brandon Spikes, Safety Patrick Chung, and tackle Sebastian Vollmer were all declared out. Reserve running back Shane Vereen also stayed back in New England.

The loss of Branch will make it easier for the Broncos to focus their attention on Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots could desperately use another wideout to step up like Chad Ochocinco or Tiquan Underwood.