The Oakland Raiders suffered a catastrophic loss on Sunday even though they won the game against the Jaguars. Veteran safety Tyvon Branch fractured his fibula and it looks like he will miss significant time this season. The Raiders have lost their best offensive and defensive players over the last few weeks as Jared Veldheer also went down for a significant amount of time. With Branch’s injury, the Raiders will have 10 new starters on defense against the Broncos on Monday, with Lamarr Houston being the sole starter left from last year.
Luckily, the Raiders have great depth at safety this season. Both Brandian Ross and Usama Young made big plays in spot duty against the Jaguars yesterday.
Former New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns safety Usama Young came to the Raiders with 25 career starts. It was assumed that Young was going to become the Raiders starting free safety until a man named C-Wood signed with the team. Young had 1.5 sacks against the Jaguars on Sunday in his first real action in the silver and black. Head coach Dennis Allen was Young’s defensive backs coach in New Orleans so Allen is comfortable with Young getting reps this year.
While Young is Allen’s guy, Brandian Ross has been Reggie McKenzie’s pet project since his days with the Green Bay Packers. McKenzie signed Ross to a contract after going undrafted in the 2011 draft. After a good pre-season, the Packers placed Ross on the practice squad and when another team tried to sign Ross to their 53-man roster, McKenzie convinced Ross to stay with the Packers. When the Packers released Ross last season, McKenzie immediately signed him to a contract with the Raiders. Ross is a perfect fit for Allen’s hybrid defensive scheme as he can play both safety and cornerback.
Obviously, the Raiders will not be able to replace Branch’s production with Ross and Young. Every player on the defense must step up their game now that Branch is gone.