Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is Pressure on Branch? Stats Say Jags' DE Is Struggling; Coaches Don't

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is Pressure on Branch? Stats Say Jags' DE Is Struggling; Coaches Don't

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

There are two easy ways for a defensive end to get noticed.

The first is getting a sack. The second is a costly penalty.

In last Sunday's game at Denver, Andre Branch was in the spotlight for the latter.

He was flagged for a costly unnecessary roughness penalty after the whistle on the Broncos' second series when he engaged in a shoving match following Peyton Manning's incomplete pass on 3rd-and-14 from the Denver 40.

Instead of punting, the Broncos got a first down on the Jaguars 41. They scored five plays later to take a 14-0 lead.

The Jaguars rallied to within two points, but never overcame the deficit and lost 35-19.

"Obviously we were disappointed with the penalty he got. That was a bad penalty. There's no excuse for it,'' said defensive coordinator Bob Babich.

A penalty like that could have earned a young player - Branch is in his second season after being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft - a seat on the bench.

Instead, Branch returned after two plays and wound up playing 45 snaps, the most action he has seen this year, as coach Gus Bradley continued to show confidence in him. Bradley doesn't want the penalty to overshadow the progress Branch is making.

"Bradley came up to me and said, 'I love the way you're playing. You have to learn from it and keep going forward. Just keep playing hard,' '' Branch said. "Not once did he get mad at me.''

Branch added the penalty "was in the heat of the moment and could have gone either way. They believe in me. They know I didn't do it on purpose and I'm not out there to hurt the team by any means.''

Branch is trying to rebound after making little impact in his rookie season and having a slow start in the offseason when there was even speculation he could be cut or traded.

On the stat sheet, Branch appears to have a ways to go. He only has one sack this season - he got credit for it when the Rams' Sam Bradford tripped over one of his linemen - and three quarterback pressures. …

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