Coach Campbell provides a sigh of relief on Brian Branch’s injury

USA Today

The Detroit Lions’ 2023 draft yielded several impactful players, including Brian Branch, whose promising performance in his rookie year hinted at a bright future on the defensive side. However, when Branch was spotted in a walking boot, fans grew concerned about his health and potential impact for the upcoming season. Fortunately, Coach Dan Campbell addressed the situation ahead of OTAs, offering reassurance and alleviating the worries among fans.

“He had a little cleanup there. Something that, coming out of last year, thought he might heal, and then it just ended up being, ‘We better get this thing done.’ So that’s where he’s at. That and I think he likes riding scooters. But we feel like he’s progressing well. We feel like he’ll be ready to go in camp. If not, early enough it’ll be certainly he’ll get enough reps to be ready for the season. That’s how we feel right now.”

Last season, Branch emerged as one of the Lions’ standout defensive players, excelling primarily in the nickel corner role. Whether disrupting passing plays or making crucial stops against the run, he showcased versatility and toughness that became a cornerstone of the Lions’ defense. His adaptability as a defensive “swiss army knife” offers the team various options for defensive schemes, keeping opponents guessing about coverage assignments and blitz packages.

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With limited changes in the safety position, it appears the Lions will rely more on Branch to fulfill additional roles, further enhancing the defensive playbook.

During Branch’s absence from OTAs due to recovery, the Lions will have the opportunity to evaluate other players for the nickel position, such as rookie Ennis Rakestraw. With a depth of options at cornerback, the team can experiment and identify potential fits for this key role, maximizing practice opportunities and roster flexibility.

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