The Jacksonville Jaguars are ready to turn Andre Branch loose and let him play.
That’s fine with one of the 2012 NFL draft’s most promising edge-rushers, who was on the field with his teammates last week after becoming the first of the Jaguars’ drafted players to sign a contract.
Branch’s wait isn’t quite over, however.
The NFL office has declined to approve the four-year, $5.1 million deal that Branch signed, which included a $2.14 million signing bonus. The Jaguars are being asked to restructure the contract. Most such matters are typically resolved quickly.
Once Branch gets on the field full-time, he’s expected to make an immediate impact for a team that ranked among the NFL’s worst last season at rushing the passer.
A starting job will be Branch’s to lose, and he said last week that he’s ready to prove his worth.
“Coach (Mike) Mularkey and (defensive line) Coach (Joe) Cullen are hard-working coaches, and I knew that coming in,” said Branch at his post-signing press conference. “I can’t do anything but attack that and keep getting better and better…
“The transition is the same as the transition between high school and college in that you think everybody’s a big man on campus. Now, everybody here is really, really good.”
Mularkey, who is in his first season as Jacksonville’s head coach, says the team’s defensive scheme is well-suited to Branch making an early impact.
“Our scheme is not very complicated, and there’s a lot to be said for that,” Mularkey told NFL.com. “It’s kind of the Chuck Noll philosophy – you do a little, and you do it really good. What we do is sound, and guys have confidence in what we’re doing.”