Andre Branch: 3 questions for 2015

2 of 3

Aug 22, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch (90) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2) Can Andre Branch increase his playing time at defensive end?

If Andre Branch can excel as a pass rusher, then he will see his playing time increase. Last season he was limited to just nine games and in those nine games he played between 15 and 53 snaps per game. For some games he was on the field about half the time, for others he barely glimpsed the grass.

By virtue of the Dante Fowler Jr. injury and Chris Clemons’ inability to see the practice field, we may be seeing more of Branch during the preseason and (possibly) into the season. Based on past performance and the hesitancy displayed by the coaching staff to put Branch in the game regularly and rely on him, it would be tough to justify more playing time purely because he’s the last man standing, as it were.

About two thirds of Branch’s snaps last season came in pass rush duties, as measured by Pro Football Focus. With limited success on those downs, you have to imagine guys like Chris Smith and Ryan Davis will eat into his snaps. Davis is a versatile defensive lineman, taking snaps across the unit but Smith is really surging so far this offseason and could become something special if given the chances. Branch will also have to content with splitting time at the position with Chris Clemons, who is the most established pass rusher on the roster.

Looking at it so far, I Think we’ll see Branch put in on roughly 25% of snaps in the 2015 season. Unless he can prove himself worthy during the preseason, there’s no point in taking snaps away from more proven defensive ends.