By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, September 16th, 2013 at 3:59 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Unedited version for print . . .
The Raiders were resigned to moving forward without strong safety Tyvon Branch Monday, with Charles Woodson, Usama Young and Brandian Ross charged with picking up the slack after the loss of their highest-paid player.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen declined to confirm an ESPN report that Branch had a fractured fibula, saying, “ he’s probably going to miss some time, how much that time is, I don’t know.’’
Allen termed the injury “significant’’ following a 19-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, the same term he used when Jared Veldheer had surgery to repair a torn triceps.
“We’re going to be missing a good player,’’ Woodson said. “It’s unfortunate it goes down like this and it just means somebody is going to have to step up.’’
Having already used the short-term injured reserve designation in Jared Veldheer following surgery to repair a torn triceps, Branch will be carried on the 53-man roster until he’s healthy unless the team determines he needs to be placed on injured reserve for the season.
Branch, who signed a four-year $26.5 million extension last year and is earning $9.5 million this season in a restructured deal, has been a favorite of three different coaching staffs because of his work ethic as well as an explosive, physical style.
The Raiders did fine for three quarters without Branch against Jacksonville, with Young getting 1.5 sacks and Ross getting a sack.
While Ross is listed as the backup strong safety to Branch and Young the No. 2 free safety behind Woodson, Allen said he wasn’t sure which player would start in the place of Branch and isn’t really sure if it matters.
“If Ty’s out for awhile ew’ve got guys we feel can step up and make plays, whether it’s strong safety or free safety,’’ Allen said. “I look at those as interchangeable positions and they really need to be to have the flexibility to do different things defensively.’’
Young, having played in New Orleans when Allen was coaching defensive backs, is used to moving around.
“I’ve played free, I’ve played strong, I’ve played nickel, I’ve played corner,’’ Young said. “Here as a safety, you’re a safety. We mix it up so much, with guys in the box or back in space, you never know where you’re going to be.’’
Allen and Woodson said the Raiders believe they won’t have to alter their game plan to account for the absence of Branch when they visit the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in Week 3.
“I believe we have smart players and guys that can go in and know what’s expected of them, what to do,’’ Woodson said. “We won’t have to alter our game plan at all. We look forward to going down there with our full arsenal of plays and just have to stick different guys in there to implement it, and we’re comfortable with that.’’
– Woodson has gotten plenty of feedback from his leaping tackle of Maurice Jones-Drew which prevented a potential Jacksonville touchdown. He saw it on film and liked what he saw.
“It’s pretty impressive,’’ Woodson said. “It was one of those sellout plays that you need during the course of a game that hopefully can turn the tide and give you some momentum.’’
– Guard Lucas Nix is getting an MRI on his injured ankle and his status for Denver is not known. Andre Gurode played in place of Nix, who was struggling in part because of the injury.
“He did well,’’ Allen said of Gurode. “A couple of things need to be cleaned up but overall I was pleased with what he did when he got in there.’’
– Allen said place kicker Sebastian Janikowski, whose miss from 35 yards snapped a streak of 50 straight field goals from 40 yards and in, is still working on gaining confidence with Marquette King as the holder. Shane Lechler was Janikowski’s holder from 2000 through 2012.