Raiders strong safety Tyvon Branch has been practicing for two weeks and has said that if was up to him he would be returning to game action, but the team doesn’t consider him ready to play.
He was downgraded from questionable to out before a road loss to the New York Jets last Sunday and was deemed doubtful for Sunday’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on the Raiders’ official injury report Friday. All signs pointing to more missed time for the Raiders most talented safety.
While coach Dennis Allen didn’t anticipate much time between Branch’s return to practice and play, the veteran hasn’t responded as well as expected leading to an extended time away from the field as the Raiders number of games remaining gets lower by the week.
A bone injury in Branch’s leg is giving the safety more problems than he ever anticipated.
“It’s really a factor of whether he’s fully healthy enough to go out there and perform the things he has to perform to play the position he has to play,” Allen said in his post practice press conference on Friday. “When you’re dealing specifically with a lower body injury at the defensive back position, you have to remember that the player will be doing a lot of running. We’ll have to see when he gets back to where he can be fully effective.”
The Raiders have kept Branch on the 53-man roster since he got hurt during a Week 2 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, an injury that has been a huge blow to the Raiders secondary. With just two games remaining the Raiders may move Branch to injured reserve and simply sit Branch for the rest of the season before seeing him again once training sessions start in late spring.
“Nobody has a crystal ball to know when a guy is going to get back, but you’ve got to make the best decisions that you can and forecast if there’s a chance they can come back at help you,” Allen said. “If they do, you keep them up and if not, then you’ve got to put them on IR.”
With Branch already missing the entire season and only two games left it makes sense for the Raiders to simply just shut Branch down and not risk further injury. A difficult situation for a player who was expected to shine in a secondary overhaul from Reggie McKenzie this offseason, instead an injury that has defined the Raiders hard luck season has kept one of their best defenders out for essentially all of 2013.