Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 6/3/12

Oakland Raiders strong safety Tyvon Branch was given the franchise tag by the team in the offseason. Now that he has signed the tender, ensuring he will be a member of the Raiders in 2012, he is looking to take his play and leadership to the next level.

“I feel comfortable here,” Branch said after Oakland's second OTAs. “I thought of myself as a leader before the tag so I'm just going to try to elevate my game and lead by example. With the new defense we got, it will give us a lot more opportunities to make plays.”

Both the Raiders and Branch are looking to take the next step in contract talks and agree on a long term deal. Branch was drafted out of Connecticut in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft and has started all 16 games the last three seasons. The 6-0, 205 pound strong safety led the team in tackles last season with 109. Because of that production, new Raiders head coach Dennis Allen likes what he sees from Branch.

“The way that he plays the game with the speed, the effort, the tenacity,” Allen said. “He enjoys playing the game of football, as well as he is as good an athlete as you could hope for. So I think, with our safeties, we’ve got pretty good athletes that we can do a lot with.”

In the offseason the Raiders brought in two new cornerbacks in Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, who along with second year man DeMarcus Van ****, will see plenty of playing time. Branch and his teammates will have to acclimate to a new defense this upcoming season with the safeties making all the defensive calls and providing leadership to the entire defense. Allen believes Branch can succeed in the leadership role.

“I think it’s still new for Tyvon,” Allen said. “He hasn’t been here a long time, but he’s developing everyday. Again, just like everything else, I want to see him take one step at a time in that leadership role and see if he can get better and better at that every day.”

Even though the Raiders have many new pieces at cornerback for the 2012 season, the safety position will be a strength for the team. Led by Branch and his continued progression, the Raiders boast one of the best safety tandems in the league. Alongside Branch, starting free safety Michael Huff played well last season and back-ups Mike Mitchell and Matt Giordano add quality depth.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

var switchTo5x=true; stLight.options({publisher:''});

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Durant says he has not thought about free agency yet

Report: Ken Hitchcock to return as head coach of the Blues

Bernie Sanders attends Game 7 of Warriors-Thunder series

NHL players in the Olympics may hinge on who picks up cost

Biyombo willing to take discount to stay in Toronto

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Baylor AD Ian McCaw will resign

Dolphins DE Dion Jordan applies for NFL reinstatement

Bills OT ready to rejoin team after mysterious absence

David Wright dealing with herniated disc in neck

Tyronn Lue not concerned with who Cavs play in Finals

WATCH: UNC men's lacrosse wins NCAA title in frantic OT

Draymond Green, Steven Adams get tangled up

NFL stars who could retire after the 2016 season

Steven Wright throws impossible knuckleball for strikeout

WATCH: David Villa slipped on embarrassing PK miss

WATCH: Michigan State creates enormous rally cap

Defense could play a huge role in who wins the Stanley Cup

Kobe once told Iguodala he'd drop 50 on him, almost did it

Jeanie Buss: Phil Jackson committed to Knicks

WATCH: J.T. Barrett sends great Memorial Day tribute

Why Man U fans shouldn't be too excited about Jose Mourinho

Klay Thompson is a bonafide superstar no matter the context

Mr. T: Muhammad Ali broke up crime in rough neighborhoods

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Defense could play a huge role in who wins the Stanley Cup

Speedy pace of the Penguins-Sharks Stanley Cup Final

How expanded instant replay has hurt the NBA

Best regular-season NBA teams not to win a championship

Every time an NBA team came back from a 3-1 deficit (and what it means for the Warriors)

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Sniping quotes highlight NHL conference finals animosity

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker