ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen had options to replace strong safety Tyvon Branch. He could’ve moved Charles Woodson over from free safety, or had his backup Usama Young slide in next to him.
Allen went with a straight swap. Brandian Ross is expected to start Monday’s game against the Denver Broncos. It’ll be the second of his NFL career, but Ross believes he’ll be ready for additional responsibility.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity, and I believe I’m ready for it,” Ross said. “It’s the perfect time to make an impact on this team. It’s a big game and we’re going to do what we have to do to give ourselves a chance to win.”
That means Ross must do his job well. He filled in admirably after Branch got hurt on Sunday against Jacksonville, registering three tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit in three quarters.
His next challenge will be a bit tougher. Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense pose a formidable threat to a second-year pro without significant experience.
“We’ll be dealing with a great quarterback, and I’m going to be as prepared as possible,” Ross said. “Charles has been great this week, making sure we’re on the same page with everything. Working with him makes my life a whole lot easier.”
Ross earned a spot as the reserve strong safety with a solid camp. He played free safety and corner for the team last season, but has transitioned well to a spot he considers “my natural position.”
He’ll make the calls during this game, which, like most everything else for this young talent, doesn’t faze him.
“I think my skills are suited for this,” Ross said. “I’m excited and I’m focused. I’ll be ready to go on Monday night.”
Bailey back in action: Broncos veteran cornerback Champ Bailey said he hopes to be ready for Monday’s game against the Raiders. Bailey has been out since suffering a foot injury on Aug. 17. His return would be a hindrance to the Raiders passing attack, especially if he’s at full strength. Bailey’s talent must be respected, but one Raider is excited to play against such a talent.
“Champ was one of my favorite DB’s growing up,” Raiders receiver Rod Streater said. “So I’m going to enjoy the competition. It’ll be a tough matchup, but I can’t wait to play against him.”
Nix, Burnett return: Raiders left guard Lucas Nix returned to practice in a limited role on Friday, which opens the door for a possible start on Monday.
It will depend on how well he recovers, and how close to full health he is come kickoff. Nix was injured early in Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, and his play suffered when he played hurt.
Allen intimated that Nix would play if health permitted. Andre Gurode will start if Nix can’t go.
Outside linebacker Kevin Burnett left Thursday’s practice with illness, but was back working on Friday.
Full participation: OLB Kevin Burnett (illness)
LG Lucas Nix (ankle)
Did not practice: TE David Ausberry (shoulder), OT Menelik Watson (knee), SS Tyvon Branch (ankle)
Injured reserve: RB Latavius Murray (ankle), K Eddie Carmona (leg), G Tony Bergstrom (foot); Designated to return: LT Jared Veldheer (triceps)
Physically unable to perform list: LB Miles Burris (knee)
Quote of the day: “There’s a formula for beating this team. We’ve talked about what that formula is and what we have to do to accomplish that goal. Really what it’s going to boil down to is our ability to execute that plan.” -- Raiders head coach Dennis Allen on playing a seemingly invincible Broncos team