Branch Knows Dolphins Have Unfinished Business

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Andre Branch had the best season of his NFL career in 2016, and it also was the most enjoyable season of his career.

Armed with a brand-new contract that allowed him to return to the Dolphins for a second season, Branch is going to do everything in his power to make sure the fun continues.

“I’ve been training like a maniac since I’ve been in the league, been on a strict diet for about five years now,” Branch said. “That’s not going to stop, but I do know the demand on my body is going to be higher now going into my sixth season. So I treat my body just like as a machine. I feed it right, get it the right amount of rest. If you want to be successful in this league, you have to do that. You get a guy that has a strict diet and gets the right amount of rest and the right maintenance on his body with the exact talent level as someone that doesn’t do that, he’s leaps and bounds from the other guys. For me, I know how important it is and the advantage you get from doing that.”

Branch re-signed with the Dolphins in March after setting career highs in 2016 in starts (11) and tackles (49), and also finishing second on the team in sacks with 5.5.

He was instrumental in the Dolphins being able to rebound from a 1-4 start to finish 10-6 and earn a playoff berth. Perhaps it was mere coincidence, but the Dolphins’ 9-2 run to end the season began when Branch and Cam Wake were inserted into the starting lineup at defensive end.

“I know who I am as a player at the end of the day,” Branch said. “I think it was just all about opportunity. For me, I don’t make excuses. I started the first time in Week 7. I look at things like this that I have a lot more to accomplish and a lot more to give. For me, I just want to keep going forward and keep getting better each and every day, and that’s what I’m going to continue doing.

“Winning is fun. Early in my career I didn’t have too many winning seasons; when you win, everyone is having fun. There’s no finger-pointing. There’s none of that. And everyone treats things like a brotherhood. I haven’t had that feeling since Clemson. For me, it was just continuously just growing that brotherhood that we have. And we know we have unfinished business. We made it to the playoffs, but now we’re not that team anymore. We want more, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Branch initially joined the Dolphins last offseason as an unrestricted free agent after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Even though he signed a one-year contract at the time, it quickly became obvious this was a good match for both team and player, and it would behoove both sides to extend.

“It’s an honor,” Branch said. “I’m back with the team that probably pretty much turned my career around. I guess you could say they gave me a shot and I made the most of it. I appreciate them for that and I’m going to give them 110 percent like I’ve been doing since I stepped foot here day one. We’re just getting started. We’re just getting started from here and (going to) keep going.”

Before he joined his teammates for the start of the offseason program, Branch was part of a group of Dolphins players who traveled to New York the first week of March to take part in the inaugural Dolphins Business Combine.

Branch took advantage of the opportunity to spend some time around fashion company Rag & Bone and got a glimpse of his future.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I appreciate Mr. (Stephen) Ross for allowing us to do that because I know he has a very important schedule, but he allowed us to come up there for a week. My passion other than football is fashion, and I know I want to be in fashion when I’m done playing, but at the same time I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do. And Rag & Bone was a brand that I’ve been following for years — I actually wear their brand. For me, I got to learn from a brand that I’ve been following. And I know exactly what I want to do now.”

That’s for his post-football days, though. What’s at hand for Branch now is building on his memorable first year with the Dolphins.

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