FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Fans attending today’s opening of training camp weren’t expected to see the Patriots top wide receiver Deion Branch, who wants a new contract. Now they probably won’t see defensive captain Richard Seymour either.

Seymour, the four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman, was among 10 players placed on New England’s physically unable to perform list on Thursday, although any of them can be taken off the list in training camp once they’re ready to practice.

Branch’s likely absence has nothing to do with his health. Entering his fifth season, the former second-round draft choice wants more than the $1.045 million he’s scheduled to make this year, the last of his original contract. There have been negotiations about an extension, but Jason Chayut, Branch’s agent, said this week the player wouldn’t be in camp “until he feels he’s being treated fairly,” according to the Boston Globe.

Chayut did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. Branch, who also missed mandatory minicamp in June, can be fined $14,000 for each day he stays away from training camp.

Seymour also missed the start of training camp last year in a contract holdout, got a raise for 2005 and a multiyear contract after last season. He missed four games with a knee injury, and there is no indication he’s seriously injured now.

Players can only be put on the PUP list before the first practice of training camp. If they are not removed from it before the final roster cutdown to 53 players on Sept. 2, they must stay on it for the first six weeks of the season. At any time during weeks seven through 10, they can be activated or work out with the team.

After the first 10 weeks of he season, they must be activated, waived or placed on injured reserve, requiring them to miss the rest of the season.

The others placed on the PUP list were safety Rodney Harrison and center Dan Koppen, who both underwent surgery and were sidelined for most of last season; running back Patrick Pass; tackle Nick Kaczur; cornerback Randall Gay; wide receivers Chad Jackson and Bam Childress; long snapper Lonie Paxton and defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan.

In other moves Thursday, the Patriots re-signed three free agents – linebacker Chad Brown and offensive linemen Gene Mruczkowski and Billy Yates – and released linebacker Ryan Claridge and defensive lineman Kader Drame.

The biggest questions facing the Patriots are who will replace kicker Adam Vinatieri and who will fill out a wide receiver corps that lost starter David Givens as a free agent to Tennessee.

Veteran Martin Gramatica and rookie Stephen Gostkowski, a fourth-round draft choice from Memphis, are competing for the job Vinatieri excelled at for 10 seasons. With a lack of depth at wide receiver, the Patriots could favor two tight-end formations since they appear better stocked at that position with veterans Daniel Graham, and Benjamin Watson and rookies David Thomas and Garrett Mills.

The Patriots also lost linebacker and team leader Willie McGinest as a free agent to Cleveland and, without a healthy Harrison, have a secondary without a star.

But Tom Brady is back to lead the offense and running back Corey Dillon, coming off an inconsistent and injury-plagued year, could improve the running game. Still, the last time the Patriots played, they lost 27-13 at Denver in their second playoff game, committing five turnovers and losing a chance to become the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowls.

AP-ES-07-27-06 1903EDT


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