Skip to main content

Lions DBs coach happy with how rookie Brian Branch is playing

Rookie defensive back Brian Branch returned to the Lions' lineup Sunday in Baltimore and picked right up where he left off before an ankle injury suffered late in Detroit's Week 4 win in Green Bay forced him to miss two games.

Branch allowed two receptions for a total of 15 yards vs. the Ravens and had a couple tackles and a tackle for loss.

From Day 1 of arriving in Detroit following the Lions moving up in the second round of this year's NFL Draft to select Branch No. 45 overall, it's been hard for coaches to take him off the field. It was clear early in OTAs Branch was an instinctive player at such a young age. He quickly established himself as the best slot cornerback on the roster.

He's an elite run defender, he's good in man coverage and in five games he has racked up 27 tackles, four tackles for loss, four passes defended and an interception he returned for a touchdown.

"He's been really good and I'm really happy with how he's played," Lions defensive backs coach Brian Duker said of Branch on Wednesday.

Branch came to Detroit as an advanced man coverage corner, and he's continued to show that trait in the NFL. Duker said the next step for Branch is continuing to learn the intricacies of the playbook and understanding the big picture of how everyone works within the scheme and how offenses try to attack it.

"He's continuing to learn the playbook and kind of understand alright now that he understands his assignment, he can spend more time anticipating what offensive concepts are coming," Duker said.

Branch's football intelligence and instincts are through the roof and that's why he plays as fast as he does and makes so many plays on a weekly basis. As he continues to understand offensive concepts and how teams look to attack him he'll be better equipped to counter and his game will continue to evolve.

View photos of the starters for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Branch has a quiet, serious personality. Duker joked Wednesday that he sometimes has to get on the rookie to be louder and more demonstrative when making some of the defensive calls and checks in certain situations.

Branch has become an important player in Detroit's defense and coaches like Duker see the sky as the limit to how good he can be the more he sees the field and understands how teams try to attack him and the Lions' defense.

Related Content