New kid on the block
New Seattle Seahawk Alan Branch played defensive end for NFC West rival Arizona for four seasons, but now the University of Michigan product will move inside for Seattle, and is tentatively slated to start next to Brandon Mebane at defensive tackle.
“I’m just a little more aggressive, that’s the main thing,” Branch said about his new role. “I’m still kind of reading, but mostly it’s just aggression and getting in the backfield as much as possible in this defense, and that’s the way I kind of like it.”
Although he’s penciled in to play inside, Branch, 26, also will see some time at defensive end, spelling Red Bryant once he’s healthy. But Branch said it doesn’t matter where they put him, he’s just getting after the football.
“I’m really comfortable all over the line,” he said. “If he wants me to play any technique honestly, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be a wide receiver in a three-point stance if he wants.”
12th Man love
Branch said he’s looking forward to escaping the heat of the desert, along with playing regularly with crowd noise behind him at CenturyLink Field
“It’s been pretty good,” Branch said about the transition. “It’s better than 110 degrees outside, I’ll tell you that. So I’m having a good time out here. I’m liking it.
And what was it like as a visitor at CenturyLink Field?
“It’s loud. Super loud – that 12th man is something else,” he said. “All the defenses talk about that like, ‘Man, if we had that at our home stadium how much better our get off would be. So I finally got that on my home side, so we’ll see what’s up with that.”
A full-court press
Branch said he was the focus of a heavy recruiting effort by the Seahawks once the free agency period began. Seattle had him targeted as one of the players at the top of the list they wanted to bring in, choosing not to draft from a deep talent pool at defensive line in this year’s draft, and signing Branch instead.
“They made it easy,” Branch said. “Ever since lockout ended I was feeling like I knew all the coaches already from that first day, because they were in contact with me and making sure I knew they wanted me. So that felt good. … Being a backup on a different team and knowing that another team wants you, that’s a really good feeling to have in your back pocket.”
A 300-pound punt returner
An all-state defensive tackle at Cibola High School in Rio Rancho, N.M., Branch was highly recruited out of high school, playing defensive tackle, offensive tackle and fullback. At 6-foo-6 and 315 pound, Branch actually returned three punts for touchdowns during his high school career.
“I was the only one who could catch the ball, so we just wanted possession there,” he said.