In early October, both safety Tyvon Branch and running back Chris Johnson were placed on injured reserve with severe groin injuries. At the time, coach Bruce Arians indicated that it would be a race between the two to see who could get healthy first. It appears that Branch has won.
Branch will come off IR and is on the field practicing today, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (on Twitter). The safety cannot play before Dec. 4 but he is on the path to return.
Branch appeared in all 16 games for the Chiefs last season and recorded 43 tackles, one interception, a forced fumble, and four passes defensed. The advanced metrics from Pro Football Focus placed Branch as the 30th best safety in the NFL last year, slotting him ahead of free agents like Chris Conte, Eric Weddle, and David Bruton. While he did not start in 2015, the Cardinals believed that he was capable of a larger role. Branch was shelved after just five games this year, but he’ll get the opportunity to rejoin the club for the final stretch of the season.
Because only one player can return from IR, Johnson’s season is through. In 2015, Johnson was surprisingly productive for Arizona before a fractured tibia ended his season early. He re-signed with the Cardinals in the spring where he was expected to be David Johnson‘s primary backup. His season ends with a grand total of 95 yards and one touchdown off of 28 carries.
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