The NFL has given the Seahawks a two-week roster exemption for the former Super Bowl MVP, acquired Monday from the New England Patriots in a trade that ended Branch's 45-day contract holdout. Seattle would have had to release a player from its 53-man roster by Saturday afternoon in order to add Branch for Sunday's game.
A Seahawks team spokesman confirmed they did not.
Branch -- who Wednesday signed a $39 million, six-year contract with a $13 million in guarantees -- said Friday he would understand if coach Mike Holmgren decided not to play him after just three days of practice and a crash course of learning the coach's intricate playbook. Until this week, the speedy receiver had not practiced since the week of the Patriots' playoff loss at Denver on Jan. 14.
"I'm still antsy .... but these guys don't have time to wait for me to break the huddle because I'm trying to think about the play call," Branch said Friday.
"If he says I'm down, I'll prepare to be ready for next week," a Sept. 24 game against the New York Giants.
Holmgren said Wednesday it was unlikely Branch would play against the Cardinals. Then Friday, after Branch impressed the entire team in another practice, Holmgren said: "I think it's a little unrealistic for anybody to come in with a couple days of practice and play after he hasn't in a long time.
"But he's a special kid."