Deep breath Pats fans, the drama around Antonio Brown will NOT derail New England's season ... so says Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch.
Branch had 2 stints with the Pats ('02-'05, '10-'12) and won 2 Super Bowls with Brady, Belichick and Kraft ... so he knows the organization inside and out and he's confident the legendary coach knows how to handle controversy.
"Everything starts with Bill," Branch says. "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."
As we previously reported, Brown -- in a lawsuit in Florida -- was accused of sexually assaulting and raping a woman on 3 occasions. AB adamantly DENIES the allegations.
On the football field, the Pats had a DOMINANT week 1 performance -- thrashing the Steelers 33-3 -- and Antonio didn't even suit up.
But, that was before news of the lawsuit broke ... and Branch admits that a superstar player being accused of rape could shake the whole team.
"It's tough, especially when you hear things of that nature. The most important thing is just for you to carry out your assignment, do your job while you're there."
Deion says it's up to Antonio Brown and his people to handle ... and for everyone else, "just stay far away from it."
Can the Pats players do it … first test is this Sunday in Miami.