This offseason, there is more discussion on who the Cardinals lost this offseason from their secondary than who they’ve added.
Yes rookie Brandon Williams was the talk of the short Mini-camp and fellow rookie Harlan Miller impressed at rookie camp. But a key veteran addition whose experience could prove to be very important is Tyvon Branch.
The ninth year safety from UConn has added speed and versatility to the Cardinals secondary maybe more so than what they had in Rashad Johnson the last few seasons. It is that versatility on the back-end to also be put into coverage when needed is standing out to the Cardinals as they have completed off-season activities.
“They’ve got me learning multiple positions,” said Branch. “Being versatile in this league is how you stick around I guess so I am just trying to do whatever they want me to do.”
“I am picking things up pretty quickly,” he mentioned. “Just getting the language. Checks are different in other places than they are here and now that I’ve got that, everything is going pretty smooth.”
Branch spent his first seven seasons with Oakland and as the starter in years two through five, he missed a combined two games tallying more than 90 combined tackles in each of those seasons. But frustrating injuries both in 2013 and 2014 forced him to appear in just five total games in the two years. It forced the Raiders to cut ties with their former fourth round selection which saw Branch sign in division with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2o15.
“In Oakland it was just freak stuff that was happening to me,” Branch explained. “It wasn’t my nutrition or strength training or anything like that. When bones break there is nothing you can do about that. I got a shot with Kansas City last year to show I can stay healthy and stay consistently healthy for a whole season. Now I’ve got this opportunity here and I am blessed.”
Branch’s time with the Chiefs allowed him to re-establish himself to people around the league to be a healthy reliable performer in this league.
“You know I never really missed any games in Oakland until I broke those bones and then I got tagged as the injury bug so to have that year without an injury under my belt was a blessing,” Branch stated. “I guess it just proved to guys around the league that freak stuff happened and it was what it was.”
One thing that has stood out for Branch through OTA’s and mini-camp is the aggressiveness of the Cardinals defense. Coach Bruce Arians loves talking about his team playing the “Cat” coverage saying “you get that cat and you get that cat.” Branch enjoys this style and feels it fits him well.
“They want us to cover and they want us to cover well,” said Branch. “I think that’s what makes this defense work so well is the guys that they have here being put in the position to play coverage and let the big dogs eat.”