Branch: That’s a good thing. We just come in, all we have to focus on is football. No distractions, we're just going to come in and just go to work.
Q: How different do things seem around here? There’s been a lot of change in this organization over the years, but in the last year it’s been unprecedented for even this organization.
Branch: With the new GM and the whole new regime coming in with a new mindset. The coaching change, that’s what they’re preaching right now, we’re changing the culture. So we’re just going along for the ride, following the leaders.
Q: Is there a tangible example of that culture change?
Branch: They’re real strict on discipline now as far as showing up to meetings and they’re even making us check into lunches and dinners now so they’re to change the discipline factor I guess.
Q: And that didn’t happen before at all?
Branch: Not with the meals and stuff. So that’s new for us.
Q: Tyvon, when you say follow the leaders, would you include yourself in that group?
Branch: When I said that, I was talking about the GM and the head coach and staff and the path they’re trying to set for us, but as for on the field, yes, I definitely consider myself a leader.
Q: The reason I mention that is that Coach Allen was saying today, and Tollefson mentioned it yesterday, that it’s not up to the coaches to get you guys ready, it’s up to you guys to get each other ready and sort of police things from the inside. Is that kind of the way you see it?
Branch: Yeah, definitely. Any great team, it starts with the players. We have to rally the guys and lead by example and I think we have a good core of guys to do it.
Q: When do you think you started getting comfortable with that kind of role? Last year or the year before?
Branch: You know, when they threw me out there as a starter in my second year, I kind of figured I had to take on that role. Playing safety, the safety and the Mike is usually the leaders of the defense so I think that just comes with the territory as playing strong safety.
Q: A couple of years ago, you were able to kind of look around and there was [Nnamdi] Asomugha and [Stanford] Routt and guys that had been around awhile. You were the new guy. Now it’s kind of you’re one of the guys, you’ve moved your way up the pecking order. Do you feel as though guys are looking to you more now?
Branch: Yeah, definitely. I don’t think it’s so much to be a leader or whatever the case may be. They just look to me for insight because I’ve been around the same team for so long, especially with the younger guys. We’ve got two veteran corners coming in, but they're from different teams so they’re looking at us for insight and we’re looking to them for insight.
Q: You mentioned culture change, but there seems to be a big culture change in the defensive philosophy. For years this team was man-to-man, no blitzing, 4-man rush and now apparently Dennis Allen wants to go multiple looks and multiple coverages. How big of a challenge has that been for the defense so far in OTAs?
Branch: It’s a lot of new stuff we’re learning. Like you said, we were primarily a man-to-man team and so to get some of the zone stuff and the different stuff they’re throwing in, there’s definitely a lot of learning going into it, but I think everyone is up for the challenge. I think it’s going to be beneficial to us.
Q: Your spot as a safety, I’d imagine, is crucial because you guys are the last guys back there. You and Michael [Huff] have to make sure that you guys are in the right place to do all the things you want to do.
Branch: That’s in every defense though. Safeties usually have to get guys lined up and so we’re used to it.
Q: You’re doing more of that though…
Branch: Definitely, but we’re used to it.
Q: Are you going to have more opportunities for interceptions in this type of scheme?
Branch: I think we’ve got opportunities to make interceptions in any defense. It’s just all about capitalizing and going out there and executing the defense. So I think that’s the thing.
Q: Do you enjoy training camp? Do you like coming here and getting all the guys together? Is it a fun time for you?
Branch: Yeah, I was joking about earlier. I kind of missed football. I was at home and everything my family was doing was just getting on my nerves. I said, ‘yeah, it’s time for me to get back to football.’
Q: Do you think the discipline off the field, do you think that will lead to more discipline on the field as far as penalties?
Branch: Yes, definitely. We know that our discipline is what got us in trouble in the past. That stuff trickles down onto the field and we need to cut down on the penalties if we want to be the team we want to be.
Branch: They’re smart guys. They know the game and they’re wily veterans. They’re older guys so they know the ins and outs of the game. It’s not so much a skill set with them as the mental capacity and they know a lot about football.
Q: What about [Chimdi] Chekwa and [DeMarcus] Van Dyke? Do you see those guys being able to push the wily veterans this year?
Branch: Yeah, definitely. In football it’s always competition, especially you have such an age gap, those guys are coming in with fresh legs, so to speak. So it’s always competition in football.
Q: How is your mindset different coming into this year’s camp?
Branch: It’s a new regime. We just have to get in the playbook. The defense has been pretty much the same in the past, so a lot more studying in this training camp.