NFL Nation: Tyvon Branch

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have, no doubt, rebuilt their defense. Again.

They’ve brought in veterans with hardware -- paging Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley -- and know how -- looking at you, Antonio Smith, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown -- while bringing back a future Hall of Famer in Charles Woodson. Plus, Oakland used the No. 5 overall pick to draft Khalil Mack.

And yet, the guy who may hold the key to the whole shebang is the same guy who is the last line, both literally and figuratively, of the defense itself -- strong safety Tyvon Branch.

Remember him?

He was the highest-paid player on Oakland’s roster a year ago, making more than $9.5 million, though he was lost for the season after injuring his lower right leg in the season’s second game, a 19-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team claimed all along it was an ankle injury while ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported it was a fractured fibula.

Now, Branch is recovered and slated to earn a relatively modest $4 million while carrying a cap number of $7.157 million, the second-highest on the team to new quarterback Matt Schaub’s $8 million cap number.

[+] EnlargeTyvon Branch
AP Photo/Ben MargotOakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch missed the rest of the 2013 season following an injury in Week 2.
“It was difficult sitting out,” said Branch, who went down while blitzing Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne on a third-and-7 play in the first quarter. Branch was untouched as he collapsed after stepping from the dirt infield onto the grass at O.co Coliseum, the lone facility shared by an NFL team and a major league baseball club.

“I love the game. Like I tell you all the time, I love playing football. I had a lot of guys on the team help keep my spirits high. I stayed surrounded with positive guys like Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece. Those guys helped lift my spirits.”

Branch tried to come back late in the season before being shut down. As such, the sample size of the ultra-athletic Branch teaming with the savvy of free safety Woodson is a small one indeed.

Of course, they are looking forward to playing more than five quarters together this season.

“Anytime you get your guys back and get them back healthy, you feel better about your chances,” Woodson said. “It will be great for him, coming off the injury. You know he’s hungry, because when you miss time from this game you get a chance to reflect on a lot of things.

“Having him back and having him be hungry, as I know he is, is going to be great for the defense.”

And therein lays the potential rub. Because while Branch is the longest continuously tenured Raider on defense and, thus, knows what it means to be a Raider more than any of the additions, the new guys know how to win.

Since Branch was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, the Raiders are a combined 34-62 (.352), while Tuck has two rings since 2007, Woodley has one in two Super Bowl appearances and Rogers and Brown have each been part of a Super Bowl team.

“The crazy thing about it is the mentality is not really different,” Branch said. “They had the same mentality we had; they just had a little more success with it. When you get guys like that, that have done it before, they might tell you a couple of tips and things, but everybody goes out there with the same mentality.

“Everybody wants to win games. It’s just [certain] guys have had more success than others.”

Sure, it’s early. The Raiders just completed voluntary OTAs and are in the midst of a three-day mandatory minicamp. But coach Dennis Allen, who cut his coaching teeth mentoring the secondary, likes what he’s seen from Branch thus far.

In fact, Allen said Branch does not appear to have lost a step from his pre-injury self.

“Tyvon, he’s the same Tyvon that we’ve had here,” Allen said. “He comes out to work every day, he competes every day and I’ve seen some good things from him, just from understanding the system and what we’re trying to get accomplished and learning.

“I think he’s gotten better on some technique issues that he needs to work to improve on. If he continues to work the way that he has, I would expect that we’d have a good player in him.”

Branch, meanwhile, is his own harshest critic, one that went stir crazy as he could only watch his teammates from mid-September on last year.

It’s almost as if the Raiders picked up a new starting strong safety in free agency.

“Watching from the sidelines, you see things in another perspective,” Branch said. “If I could play the game from the sidelines, I think I’d have a lot more plays under my belt. I think it helped my leadership role. Being able to lead from the sideline and not being out there (with) guys actually seeing you play, I think that helped me a lot.”

The Raiders are counting on it.

“I go out there every game with the mentality of ‘Let’s win,’” he said. “That doesn’t change whether we’re 12-0 or 1-12. I’m going to go out there with the same mentality.

“Every team I’ve played on so far, I went into the season thinking, ‘The sky’s the limit for us.’”

So long as the sky does not fall on them. Again.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Strong safety Tyvon Branch’s attempted comeback from a fractured fibula in his right leg suffered in Week 2 came to an end Saturday as the Oakland Raiders placed their highest-paid player on season-ending injured reserve with three games remaining, including Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Branch
In a corresponding roster move, the Raiders added defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin to the active roster from the practice squad.

The 6-foot-4, 306-pound Lumpkin, 25, was signed to Oakland’s practice squad on Nov. 20. He spent most of the 2011 and 2012 seasons on Arizona's practice squad and Raiders fans might remember him for the roughing the passer hit he levied on then-Oakland backup quarterback Matt Leinart during an exhibition game last year.

Lumpkin was fined $21,000 for the blow and Leinart left the game with an injury to his right index finger. Lumpkin has appeared in one regular-season game in his NFL career, against the Detroit Lions last Dec. 16, and had one tackle. The undrafted defensive lineman from Kentucky figures to be needed for depth on the defensive line Sunday with the concussed Vance Walker doubtful to play against the Chiefs.

Branch, meanwhile, began practicing last week and seemed on track to appearing in a game for the first time since going down against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 15, when the baseball dirt infield was still in use at the O.co Coliseum. Branch, who will make $9.5 million this season, went down while blitzing Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne on a third-and-7 play in the first quarter, after stepping from the dirt onto the grass.

It was not known, though, if the playing surface had anything to do with the injury, which has been described as an ankle issue by the Raiders all along, with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reporting it as being a fractured fibula.

Branch told reporters this week that he felt he could have played earlier in the season. In two games, he had nine tackles (four solo) with a sack.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Receiver Denarius Moore went through his second consecutive practice after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury and would seem to be on track to playing Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Moore
"He had another good day today," coach Dennis Allen said. "Obviously, I'm not ready to make the decision yet, but it's moving in a positive direction."

If Moore, who has 37 catches for 569 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns, is active against the Chiefs, it presents a challenge for the Raiders. Andre Holmes has excelled in Moore's absence, and Rod Streater, with 50 receptions, is just 213 yards away from becoming the first Raiders receiver with a 1,000-yard receiving season since Randy Moss in 2005.

A likely scenario would have Moore and Holmes on the outside with Streater sliding into the slot.

"It's another element that we have, another weapon that we have that we feel like we can utilize," Allen said. "The more guys you have like that, the better you're going to be. It gives us a boost.

"There's only so many guys that can be on the field at the same time so, obviously, if you add another guy into the mix somebody's going to lose a few reps here or there. All those guys are guys that we can still plan on using and plan on having in the game plan a significant amount."

There were no changes to the Raiders' injury report Thursday as defensive tackle Vance Walker was still exhibiting concussion symptoms, so he is unlikely to play Sunday.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: RB Darren McFadden (ankle), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), TE Nick Kasa (concussion), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), LB Sio Moore (neck)

Full practice: LG Khalif Barnes (knee/ankle), RG Mike Brisiel (knee), DE Jason Hunter (foot/finger), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), RT Tony Pashos (foot)
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The last time the Oakland Raiders won a football game – at the Houston Texans on Nov. 17 – was also the last time receiver Denarius Moore appeared on a football field.

Moore
Before Wednesday.

Moore, who injured a shoulder in that win over the Texans, practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday and could be on track to play against the Kansas City Chiefs at the O.co Coliseum on Sunday.

“I thought he moved around pretty good … did some pretty good things out there and was able to be functional,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Moore, who has 37 receptions for 569 yards this season.

“It’s a matter, really, of how does he respond tomorrow? And if he continues to respond positively, then I think there’s a chance of him being available Sunday.”

Allen, though, was less optimistic on the prospects of strong safety Tyvon Branch facing the Chiefs. Branch, who broke his right leg against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 15, began practicing last week and was not ruled out of the New York Jets game until Saturday.

“I don’t know,” Allen said. “I think it’s still questionable whether he’ll be ready to go or not.”

A bright spot for the Raiders, though, was leading rusher Rashad Jennings (588 yards on 126 carries) practicing fully after missing the Jets loss with a concussion suffered on Thanksgiving Day at the Dallas Cowboys.

The following is the Raiders’ injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: RB Darren McFadden (ankle), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), TE Nick Kasa (concussion), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), LB Sio Moore (neck)

Full practice: LG Khalif Barnes (knee/ankle), RG Mike Brisiel (knee), DE Jason Hunter (foot/finger), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), RT Tony Pashos (foot)

Rashad Jennings inactive for Raiders

December, 8, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rashad Jennings, who suffered a concussion in the Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas, was among the seven inactive Oakland Raiders players for Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

As such, the Raiders will be without all three running backs from that loss to the Cowboys as Jennings, Darren McFadden (ankle) and Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee) are all inactive.

Fullback Marcel Reece is expected to move over to tailback and Taiwan Jones, who converted from running back to cornerback this season, should spell Reece.

Following are the Raiders' inactives: SS Tyvon Branch, RG Mike Brisiel, RB Darren McFadden, WR Denarius Moore, RB Jeremy Stewart, RB Rashad Jennings, OL Lamar Mady.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Darren McFadden will miss the Oakland Raiders' game Sunday at the New York Jets with an ankle injury apparently suffered in the Thanksgiving Day loss at the Dallas Cowboys. The oft-injured running back was one of seven players ruled out of the Jets game by the Raiders Friday afternoon, along with strong safety Tyvon Branch, who was hoping to play for the first time since breaking a leg in Week 2.

McFadden
It will be the fifth game McFadden has missed due to injury this season -- the first time it is not related to his right hamstring -- and the 18th of the Raiders' past 38 games. McFadden, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft who will be a free agent after this season, has never played in more than 13 games in a season during his six-year career.

Also ruled out: receiver Denarius Moore (who will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury), right guard Mike Brisiel, running back Jeremy Stewart, linebacker Kaluka Maiava and safety Usama Young.

As such, the Raiders already have seven “inactive” players for Sunday, though Maiava tweeted he has been placed on season-ending injured reserve, which would open up a roster spot.

And while defensive end Jason Hunter practiced fully Friday and was listed as probable after missing the previous two games with a foot injury, it's the Raiders' running game that has the most questions.

Rashad Jennings -- who was concussed late against the Cowboys and missed the last four games of the 2012 season after suffering a concussion while he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars -- is questionable, putting the Raiders' running game in flux.

Jennings has yet to clear the NFL's concussion protocol tests, so he's been limited in practice all week.

“We've really got the rest of today and tomorrow,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Friday. “So we'll see how he's feeling tomorrow.”

Taiwan Jones, who made the conversion from tailback to cornerback this offseason, took snaps at running back this week. And fullback Marcel Reece has played the role in the past.

Allen said this week he would probably go with a running back “by committee” if Jennings, McFadden and Stewart were all unable to play against the Jets. Also, Lucas Nix will replace Brisiel at right guard.

Here is the Raiders' status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), RG Mike Brisiel (ankle/knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs/calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), S Usama Young (neck)

Questionable: LB Miles Burris (toe), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion)

Probable: DE Jason Hunter (foot), RT Menelik Watson (illness)
While both strong safety Tyvon Branch and running back Rashad Jennings practiced in limited capacities Thursday, Branch seems to be the more likely of the two to play Sunday in the Oakland Raiders' game at the New York Jets.

Jennings, who suffered a concussion in Oakland's Thanksgiving Day loss at the Dallas Cowboys, has yet to pass all of his league-mandated concussion protocol tests.

Branch
Jennings
"He's better [but] he's still not fully ready to go," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "So, again, we'll have to monitor that the rest of the week. We've still got a couple of days so we'll see where he's at."

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Jennings' 448 yards rushing since Week 9 are the second-most in the NFL, behind the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson.

Also, Jennings' four rushing touchdowns in that time frame are tied for the most in the league, and his 231 yards after contact rank third.

The only change to the Raiders' injury report was rookie offensive tackle Menelik Watson practicing fully a day after being limited by illness. Running backs Darren McFadden and Jeremy Stewart again missed practice and Taiwan Jones, who was drafted as a tailback before making the switch to cornerback this offseason, took reps at running back for the second consecutive day.

Plus, Lucas Nix, the former starting left guard, took Mike Brisiel's reps at right guard again.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: RG Mike Brisiel (knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs/calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), S Usama Young (neck)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), Rashad Jennings (concussion)

Full practice: OT Menelik Watson (illness)
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Strong safety Tyvon Branch practiced Wednesday for the first time since breaking his right leg against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 15.

Might he also play for the Oakland Raiders this coming Sunday at the New York Jets?

“If he’s healthy enough to play, he’ll play,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

“Anytime you lose a player of Tyvon’s ability and the way that he plays the game and he stands for the things that we believe in here and the way that he takes care of his business, that’s a tough guy to replace. … I thought he moved around pretty well today. Just getting him back on the field, I think, is a big boost to, obviously to him, but to all of us.”

Branch said he was still on the road to recovery.

“I came a long way,” said Branch, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008. “I feel a lot better, I feel a lot more confident in my leg. It's getting strong.

“If my leg holds up I can make an impact. That's part of my game -- coming in and making plays. So if I have a chance to come out and make some plays, I want to do that.”

Said fullback Marcel Reece: “It feels good to have my guy back. We’re like the 'Last of the Mohicans' here.”

Indeed, only placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, long snapper Jon Condo and running back Darren McFadden have been with the Raiders longer than Branch and Reece.

Meanwhile, defensive end Jason Hunter, who has missed the past two games with a foot injury, returned to practice, though receiver Denarius Moore, also sidelined the past two games, was a no-go.

The following is the Raiders’ injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: RG Mike Brisiel (knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs/calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), S Usama Young (neck)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), Rashad Jennings (concussion), OT Menelik Watson (illness)

Branch returns; no sign of McFadden

December, 4, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Strong safety Tyvon Branch was practicing Wednesday with the Oakland Raiders for the first time since breaking his right leg against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 15.

Branch
Running back Darren McFadden, though, was not on the practice field, fueling speculation that he aggravated his troubled right hamstring. Neither was running back Jeremy Stewart, who suffered knee and ankle injuries on Thanksgiving at the Dallas Cowboys.

And while Rashad Jennings was back after suffering a concussion against the Cowboys, converted cornerback/gunner Taiwan Jones was getting reps at running back.

Also, receiver Denarius Moore, who has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury, was not practicing. Right guard Mike Brisiel, who injured a knee on the Raiders’ first play at Dallas, was an observer.

Cornerback Mike Jenkins (concussion) was practicing but safety Usama Young (stinger) was not seen.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders ruled four players out of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans in leading receiver Denarius Moore, defensive end Jason Hunter, running back Darren McFadden and strong safety Tyvon Branch.

Moore
Moore injured his shoulder in Houston last weekend and he did not practice this week.

“There’s an injury there,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “It’s a painful injury and once that kind of calms down a little bit, I think he’s of the nature and of the mindset that he’ll be able to battle through it.”

It will be the first game Moore will miss this season. He has 37 receptions for 569 yards and five touchdowns. Andre Holmes will start in Moore's place.

Hunter, meanwhile, has excelled in setting the edge in the team’s run defense. He also has two sacks.

McFadden
McFadden, meanwhile, will be missing his third straight game since re-aggravating his right hamstring against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. It will be his fourth game missed due to injury in this, his contract year. McFadden has never played more than 13 games in his six-year career and, with this weekend, will have missed 17 of Oakland’s last 36 games.

The Raiders are also monitoring the health of quarterback Terrelle Pryor" target="_blank">Terrelle Pryor’s right knee. If he is healthy enough to play, he will serve as Matt McGloin’s backup against the Titans.

Following, then, is the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), DE Jason Hunter (foot), RB Darren McFadden (right hamstring), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder).

Questionable: WR Juron Criner (right shoulder), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs), DT Daniel Muir (knee), QB Terrelle Pryor (knee)

Probable: RG Mike Brisiel (ankle/knee), WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), RT Matt McCants (toe)

Watson in line to make Raiders debut

November, 1, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- With offensive linemen Andre Gurode and Tony Pashos ruled out of Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, Raiders rookie tackle Menelik Watson is in line to make his regular-season debut.

Watson, Oakland’s second-round draft pick, was in line to start at left tackle to open the season but underwent knee surgery before the opener. He returned in early October but hurt a calf and did not start practicing again until this week.

“He’s been better,” coach Dennis Allen said of Watson. “You always worry about the fact that he’s had such limited reps, but physically he looks like he’s ready to go.”

The Raiders’ starting offensive line against the Eagles figures to be: LT Khalif Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Mike Brisiel, RT Matt McCants, with Watson the backup tackle and Lamar Mady the backup guard.

Following, then, is the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), RT Tony Pashos (hip)

Questionable: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), LT Menelik Watson (calf)

Burris, Watson to practice Wednesday

October, 28, 2013
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The Raiders should be getting reinforcements from their injured masses soon.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said in his weekly news conference Monday that second-year linebacker Miles Burris and rookie tackle Menelik Watson should begin practicing on Wednesday.

Allen also said left tackle Jared Veldheer, who is on the injured reserve/designated to return list, was in Los Angeles Monday for a checkup on his surgically repaired left triceps. The results of the visit will determine when Veldheer can begin football-related activities, as he is technically eligible to play this weekend against Philadelphia. Once he starts practicing, the Raiders have 14 days to activate him or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Burris, meanwhile, is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, recovering from offseason knee surgery. He has been eligible to practice since before the bye week. Once he practices, the Raiders have 21 days to activate him or put him on IR. He has been working with a trainer on a side field during practice.

Watson, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick, has dealt with knee and calf issues as Allen recently surmised Watson has had all of 10 days of practice with the team.

Also, another week off should help with the health of right tackle Tony Pashos (hip) and left guard/center Andre Gurode (quad) and possibly strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle). Center Stefen Wisniewski played for the first time since spraining his right knee on Sept. 29.

Porter, Moore return to practice

September, 25, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While quarterback Terrelle Pryor (concussion) did not practice Wednesday, two other previously concussed Raiders players returned: cornerback Tracy Porter and linebacker Sio Moore.

Porter and Moore were listed as limited, as was left guard Lucas Nix (ankle) and fullback Jamize Olawale (ankle).

Three others did not participate in strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle), left tackle Menelik Watson (knee) and defensive end Jason Hunter (quad). Hunter was not mentioned as being injured after Monday night’s 37-21 loss in Denver.
DENVER – Upon arriving in Colorado on Sunday, the Oakland Raiders added starting strongside linebacker Sio Moore to their injury report with a concussion. The rookie’s status for Monday night’s game against the Denver Broncos is questionable.

Moore
The Raiders did not elaborate on the cause of Moore’s concussion, though he did tweet: “Talk about a scary morning man. Just thank god I’m safe and made it safely to CO.”

Moore, who dealt with a toe injury and came off the bench in the season opener at Indianapolis, started the Raiders’ home opener against Jacksonville last week. He was not on the Raiders’ injury report during the week.

Strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle), left tackle Menelik Watson (knee) and tight end David Ausberry (shoulder) already were ruled out of the Broncos game, while left guard Lucas Nix (ankle) was listed as questionable.

Branch, Watson, Ausberry ruled out

September, 21, 2013
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There were no surprises on the Raiders’ injury report Saturday as strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle), left tackle Menelik Watson (knee) and tight end David Ausberry (shoulder) were all ruled out of Monday night’s game at Denver.

Left guard Lucas Nix, who injured an ankle in Sunday’s home-opening victory over Jacksonville and did not practice until Friday, was listed as questionable. Nix was replaced in the game by Andre Gurode.

Linebacker Kevin Burnett was no longer on the injury report after leaving Thursday’s practice early due to illness.

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