The New England Patriots are used to snuffing out distractions before they spread.
But their latest signing may be Bill Belichick's toughest challenge yet.
Antonio Brown is already involved in controversy stemming from a civil lawsuit filed against him Tuesday night -- one day after the Patriots signed him in free agency -- accusing him of rape and sexual assault.
Belichick swatted away several questions about Brown's lawsuit Wednesday, and former Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch believes the head coach will continue to take the same approach to avoid Brown becoming a season-impacting distraction.
"Everything starts with Bill," Branch told TMZ Sports in a recent interview. "It starts with your leader on the team. Coach Belichick, out of all the years he's been coaching and been a part of numerous different organizations, trust me, this ain't the first time something like this has came up with some of his players. He will do what's best for the organization, that we all know."
Brown's teammates were forced to field (and mostly deflect) questions about the wideout Wednesday. The noise likely won't die down anytime soon, but Branch, who spent six-plus seasons in New England in two separate stints (2002 to 2005; 2010 to 2012), believes the Patriots players are equipped to handle it.
"It's tough, especially when you hear things of that nature," Branch said, referencing the allegations made against Brown. "The most important thing is just for you to carry out your assignment, do your job while you're there.
"If you don't have anything to do with it, you stay far away from it. And I know these guys will do that."
The Patriots already have insisted they're just focused on the Miami Dolphins this week -- even if it's unclear if Brown will join them.
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Why Deion Branch is confident Antonio Brown saga won't derail Patriots originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston