Lions rookie safety Brian Branch looking forward to the challenge of facing Patrick Mahomes

Coming out of a strong first training camp, Lions' rookie defensive back Brian Branch is thinking about the challenge coming in the season opener.

Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

After an inexplicable fall to the second round of April's draft, rookie defensive back Brian Branch was one of the stars of Detroit Lions' training camp. So much so, he has altered the original plan for the secondary--all but sure to be listed as the starting nickel/slot corner, with C.J. Gardner-Johnson becoming more of a true safety.

Branch lined up all over the field in college at Alabama, in the slot, as a deep safety, in the box. That versatility was certainly something that made the Lions covet him. While he doesn't wow with size or high-end athletic numbers, he is just simply a good football player.

Via Tim Twentyman of the Lions' website, Branch was asked after Wednesday's practice why he likes playing nickel corner. It's rooted in being right in the middle of the action, as it allows him to show all he can do.

"I'm basically like a linebacker who can cover," he said. "I'm close to the line of scrimmage. A lot more stuff goes on at the line of scrimmage. Being able to really hit and cover at the same time. That's what I love about playing there.""

Brian Branch looking forward to the challenge coming in Week 1

Branch's preseason game action was one-and-done, as in only the first game and sitting out the last two (he won't be playing in Friday's preseason finale). So as the team has started preparing for Week 1 against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, he has also shifted his focus to his first meaningful NFL game. But that shift in focus actually started before this week, as it surely did for a lot of his teammates.

"I've been thinking about Mahomes since last week," "I think I'm gonna start really watching film on them this week for sure. Just seeing what their tendencies are, and they've got a great quarterback. But, we've also go against a great quarterback here. We feel like he's prepared us.""

Branch went on to cite the value of his time at Alabama in his transition to the next level, as a "baby pro" under Nick Saban. Add that preparation with his talent level, and the Lions seem to have gotten one of the biggest steals in this year's draft.


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