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Previewing the Raiders Starters: Strong Safety Tyvon Branch

With the Oakland Raiders beginning training camp, we will be taking a look at every starting spot on the Raiders roster for the 2012 season. There is no question about who the Oakland Raiders starting strong safety will be in 2012, and there will not be any questions for a while after Tyvon Branch signed his four year contract extension this off season. That is not something that can be said of many starting positions on the Raiders outside of their dynamic duo of kickers. Not too bad for a 4th round pick out of the University of Connecticut.

Last Season: For a second consecutive year, Tyvon Branch led the Raiders in tackles and was a leader on their defense. He continued to be a strong presence along the line of scrimmage and was the definition of a ball hawk, showing up near the ball at the end of every play. Most importantly, he showed that he can continue playing at a consistently high level with his third consecutive year with triple digit tackles.

Big Question: Can Branch take his game to the next level and have a pro bowl season? Branch has been one of the Raiders most consistent players and has proven himself to be one of the better starting strong safeties in the league but he has not been able to have the big impact on games that would put him in the Pro Bowl.

Projection: This very well could be the season where Tyvon goes from very good to one of the best. Branch has shown that he can make plays in the pass game as a blitzer, but did not get to do it often with Al Davis' philosophy of not blitzing. This year, Branch will get many more looks as a blitzed and could begin to make the big time plays that his game has been missing.

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