While Raider Nation celebrated their first win of the season after a convincing 19-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener their star safety, the one not named Charles Woodson, may have saw his season end on the O.co turf.
Strong safety Tyvon Branch is one of the best players on the Raiders defense, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter had some dreadful news on Monday as the worst fears were confirmed, Branch’s leg injury is serious in the worst possible way.
Per Schefter, Tyvon Branch has suffered a “significant” injury that is believed to be a fractured fibula, and Schefter adds that Branch is out “indefinitely”. That is the type of injury that if true, would likely see Branch on some form of the injured reserve.
Dennis Allen is already missing and dealing with not having arguably their best player on offense in left tackle Jared Veldheer on the short-term injured reserve, and Branch’s injury is a crippling blow for the Raiders on the defensive side of the ball at a position Oakland intentionally built around this offseason.
Branch is a key playmaker, and he’s such an asset for this defense. He’s one of those physical strong safeties who also has the ability to cover tight ends (something that is extremely valuable in the modern NFL), famously shutting down Ron Gronkowski and developing
Without a timetable, it’s difficult to evaluate Branch’s injury impact for the Oakland Raiders, but seeing as Branch is one of the best defensive players on the team and was one of the main reasons for bringing in Charles Woodson this offseason, saying the loss is a huge impact would be a massive understatement.
Branch recorded over 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons and is a solid starting safety who can punish receivers and tight ends down the middle. Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver have been high on what Branch brings to the table and to have his skills taken out of the gameplan is going to make life far more difficult for the two when thinking of how to slow down offenses in a league that is very pass heavy.
Luckily the Raiders will be able to rely on the services of Usama Young, an experienced safety who earned two sacks in the win against the Jaguars. Young clearly isn’t as versatile or as talented as Branch, but he will be able to come out and do the job. Expect Young to come out and show that he still has the ability to be an every down defensive back in this league, it appears that he will be that guy for the time being.
Branch’s absence will be felt right away. The Raiders play the Denver Broncos on the road in just a weeks time on Monday Night Football. Without Branch, it might get ugly with the way Peyton Manning is dialed in right now.