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.
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.