Allen on Jennings: 'He's still not cleared yet'
Tyvon Branch was injured in Week 2 on Sept. 15; he has one sack and five tackles this year. (USATSI)
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NEW YORK -- Tyvon Branch’s long-awaited return has been pushed back another week at least.
The Raiders strong safety was originally listed as questionable to play his first game in nearly three months on Sunday against the New York Jets. He was downgraded to out just before the Raiders flew east.
Branch’s ankle wasn’t deemed game ready, and he was left in Oakland with other injured Raiders.
That list includes safety Usama Young (neck), which leaves the Raiders woefully thin at safety.
Brandian Ross will start as he has the last 10 games and cornerback Chemdi Chekwa, who has limited experience at safety, could be his emergency backup.
Branch has been out since Sept. 16, when he fractured his fibula against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders kept him on the 53-man roster in hopes he would be able to help the defense down the stretch. Branch’s rehab took longer than expected, though the team thought he’d be ready to play the Jets.
While Branch was limited all week, the Raiders remained optimistic until a pre-flight inspection following Friday’s walk-through practice.
Branch was one of several key Raiders ruled out of Sunday’s game. Running back Darren McFadden (ankle), receiver Denarius Moore (shoulder), running back Jeremy Stewary (knee, ankle), right guard Mike Brisiel (knee) won’t play the Jets either. Linebacker Kaluka Maiava was originally ruled out and later placed on injured reserve with a calf strain.
Feature running back Rashad Jennings was listed as questionable with a concussion. He still hasn’t been cleared for contact, and won’t go through a final examination until Saturday.
Jennings suffered head trauma in the Dallas loss, but showed superficial signs of improvement during the week. The Raiders hope Jennings can play, but he needs full medical clearance to do so. Raiders head coach Dennis Allen errs on the side of caution with head injuries, as he was by holding quarterback Terrelle Pryor out despite him being cleared to play.
Fullback Marcel Reece will take significant carries if Jennings can’t go. Defensive back Taiwan Jones – a running back until this season – has practiced with the offense this week and will also receive touches against the Jets.
Hunter returns to starting lineup: Defensive end Jason Hunter is probable to play after missing two games with a foot injury. He had been replaced in the starting lineup by tackle Vance Walker to bolster the run defense, but coach Dennis Allen said Friday that Hunter would play extensively in the base and nickel packages.
Raiders Status Report
S Tyvon Branch (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Darren McFadden (hamstring), S Usama Young, RG Mike Brisiel (knee), RB Jeremy Stewart (knee, ankle)
LB Miles Burris (toe), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion)
DE Jason Hunter (foot), OT Menelik Watson (illness)
Jets Status Report
TE Kellen Winslow (knee), DB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), DL Mo Wilkerson (wrist), OL Willie Colon (calf), DL Ellie Kenrick (back), WR Stephen Hill (knee), RB Chris Ivory (ankle), C Nick Mangold (wrist), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), DB Dee Milliner (wrist), WR Greg Salas (finger), QB Geno Smith (wrist)