It is no shock that the Oakland Raiders have been struggling in the pass game since Tyvon Branch went out with a horrific leg injury early in the season and that those struggles exasperated once first round draft pick D.J. Hayden went on the IR and further depleted the Raiders secondary.
The same can be said about the absence of wide receiver Denarius Moore, who has been missed even with Rod Streater nearing in on a 1,000 yard season and Andre Holmes along with tight end Mychal Rivera stepping up in a rejuvenated passing attack under quarterback Matt McGloin. The Raiders de facto #1 wideout (depending on what you might think of it) has been out ever since selling out on a spectacular catch against the Houston Texans with a shoulder injury after landing awkwardly.
The good news is that Moore returned to practice for the first time on Tuesday while Branch also returned after being expected to return against the Jets and not being able to recover in time for the road trip to East Rutherford. Mike Brisiel also returned to practice and will hopefully potentially make his return so the Raiders offensive line is healthy for the second clash with the Kansas City Chiefs after a decimated line allowed ten sacks on Terrelle Pryor at Arrowhead.
Branch will also be needed to repair a terrible secondary as of late that has looked like a squad that has been using second string talent, allowing over 50% of third downs to be converted over the past month. Branch was playing good football before he was hit with the bad luck of the injury bug and his return will reunite the Woodson/Branch combo at safety that looked solid before he went out. Moore’s presence at the WR position will be a boost and will open things up for the likes of Streater/Holmes/Rivera, but there is no secret the Raiders need Branch to return to be able to shake their appalling pass coverage problems. Sitting at questionable for the time being, Raider fans will hope that this week Dennis Allen isn’t just planning on getting Branch back out there, he is expecting to. The Raiders need every body they can get in the secondary at this point.