ALAMEDA (AP) — Oakland defensive back Brandian Ross made a fairly smooth transition from cornerback to safety this past offseason.
Trying to stop Denver quarterback Peyton Manning? That’s an entirely different challenge.
Ross was picked as the Raiders’ starting strong safety Friday, ending a week’s worth of speculation over how the team would compensate for the loss of injured Tyvon Branch.
Not bad for a player who went undrafted out of college two years ago and was on Green Bay’s practice squad at the beginning of last season. Ross has only one other start in his NFL career, which came at cornerback in the 2012 regular-season finale.
“It’s the perfect timing for me to make an impact on this team,” Ross said. “We’re going to go out and do what we have to do. To have it come Monday night against Peyton Manning, it’s the perfect opportunity.”
Ross was pressed into duty after Branch injured his ankle in Oakland’s 19-9 win over Jacksonville last week.
The exact nature of Branch’s injury or how long he might be out is anyone’s guess. Oakland coach Dennis Allen, following a pattern established during training camp, has declined to get into specifics about the situation.
Branch’s injury created a gaping void in the Raiders’ secondary. He had started 64 games over the past four-plus seasons and led the team in tackles in 2010 and ‘11.
• SEAHAWKS’ OKUNG ON IR: The Seattle Seahawks have placed left tackle Russell Okung on injured reserve with a designation to return after he injured a toe against the San Francisco 49ers last week. Okung injured his left big toe blocking 49ers defensive end Justin Smith on the final play of the first quarter. Coach Pete Carroll says Okung suffered a torn ligament in his toe and the injury is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.
• POLAMALU WILL CUT HAIR: The NFL’s most famous head of hair is getting a trim to help raise awareness for the plight of military veterans. Polamalu will have what he called a “ceremonial haircut” on Veterans Day as part of a fundraiser for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The four-time All Pro is challenging his teammates and fans to cut their hair too. The goal is to get people to sponsor friends and neighbors to get a little taken off the top, with the money they raised going to the VFW.
• JETS-PATRIOTS FINES: The New York Jets and New England Patriots were fined a combined $88,500 by the NFL from their game last week that included a late sideline skirmish.