Improving the pass rush has been a top offseason priority for the Seattle Seahawks. A month after signing defensive lineman Jason Jones to a one-year, $4.5 million contract, the team used their first-round pick on Bruce Irvin, a pass-rush specialist from West Virginia.
Jones is expected to be an interior pass-rushing presence, particularly in nickel situations. Seahawks defensive tackles got just six sacks last season, with three of those coming from 15-game starter Alan Branch, who had just one sack entering the final two games of the regular season.
During an appearance last week on "The Brock & Salk Show" on 710 ESPN Seattle, Branch discussed how he improved as a pass-rusher last year and expects to be even more a factor in that department in 2012.
"Toward the end of the year I started coming into my own when it came to pass rushing," Branch said. "One year I wasn't able to do pass-rush moves at all. I was supposed to just bull rush because I was a nose guard that year. So it took me a little bit to get my moves down but I think I'm starting to get some wins and I think I might surprise some people with my pass rush this year."
Branch played in over 60 percent of the Seahawks' defensive snaps last season and frequently remained on the field in nickel and dime packages. With Jones improving the team's depth, and Irvin expected to play a prominent role opposite Chris Clemons, Branch will likely rotate with Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald in pass-rushing situations.