August 17, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive ends Jeremy Mincey (94) and Andre Branch (90) sack New Orleans Saints quarterback Chase Daniel (10) during their preseason football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans Saints tackle Marcel Jones (70) blocks. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE
While much of the focus of the Jacksonville Jaguars preseason has been on the offensive side of the football, second-round pick defensive end Andre Branch has been impressing the Jaguars coaching staff and exciting fans.
"He’s been playing pretty well," Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said after practice on Tuesday. "He’s really playing well and really done very good in the run game as well. When you have guys that come off the edge with some speed you always have concern about the run game whether they can hold up against the big tackles and things. I think for being a rookie and being thrown right into this starting lineup like that I think he’s done really well. I think he’s going to just keep getting better."
While the athleticism and speed of Branch was expected, the biggest surprise has been his play in the running game, as that's an area speed rushers typically struggle with as rookies and was something most knew Branch would need to work on.
"I know he’s got some things, really a good ability in the pass rush game but in the run game I was pretty surprised where he’s at this time of his rookie year," said Mularkey.
As it stands right now, it looks like Branch is grabbing the starting defensive end position opposite veteran Jeremy Mincey by the horns.