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Rookie Branch showing instincts & ball-hawk ability in practice

There's a lot to learn for a rookie defensive back in the transition from college star to the NFL.

Even one as heralded as Detroit Lions rookie Brian Branch for how he played multiple positions at a high level at Alabama faces a learning curve in the transition to the pro game.

Time management has been a new experience for Branch.

"The fact that I'm a pro now, and I have a lot of time on my hands – now I have to deal with time management," Branch said. "I have no school anymore. This is my job. I eat, sleep and breathe football.

"Now, what am I going to do outside of here? I feel like I'm handling it well. If I'm not doing football, I'm doing something to help my body feel good."

Branch is handling his business well on the practice field. That makes head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brand Holmes feel good about the decision they made to draft Branch in the second round.

Branch played safety, cornerback and nickel back at Alabama. He has worked at all three spots with the Lions.

"He's one of those guys, you kind of see the light bulb," Campbell said. "What showed up on his tape in college is beginning to show up – quickly. He's an instinctive guy. He's got some ball-hawk ability."

Campbell cited Branch's battle with wide receiver Kalif Raymond in a one-on-one drill as an example of how he has adjusted quickly to the pro game.

At outside cornerback against one of the Lions' fastest players, Branch won the battle the first day. Raymond won the matchup the next day.

"Leaf got him back, which you expect," Campbell said. "He (Branch) was not out of place. You can see him grow. He's another guy that is wired correctly. He's wired right. He's got a chip on his shoulder. He goes to work. He wants more.

"We're happy with where he's at at this point."

View photos from Day 7 of Detroit Lions training camp on Sunday July 30, 2023.

Branch has found the veteran defensive backs to be helpful and willing to share their experiences with the young players.

"The vets are great," he said. "All the DBs, I just learn from them. They've got experience. Just taking what they do in each situation."

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