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Cardinals Bring Tyvon Branch Off Injured Reserve

Veteran safety the choice over running back Chris Johnson, linebacker Alani Fua


Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch (27) in his first day back to practice on Wednesday.

Tyvon Branch was back at practice on Wednesday, as the Cardinals have designated him their player to return from injured reserve.

The veteran safety was placed on IR after he suffered a groin injury against the Rams on Oct. 4. The soonest he can play is Dec. 4 against Washington. Each team is allowed to activate one player off injured reserve, so the season is over for running back Chris Johnson and linebacker Alani Fua, the other two candidates mentioned as possibilities to return.

Coach Bruce Arians said it was a hard decision to make.

"I put it off as long as I could to make sure we could do the right thing for the team," he said.

Branch has 22 tackles and a pair of passes defensed in four games this season. He played as the nickel cornerback early as safety Tyrann Mathieu made his way back from a torn ACL, but Mathieu assumed that position after Branch's injury and will stay there when he returns from a shoulder injury.

It remains to be seen how Branch will be used moving forward, as safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger have both played well in his absence. Mathieu, who missed Sunday's game in Minnesota, was practicing Wednesday and the hope is that he will be available Sunday in Atlanta.

Branch was chosen to return over Johnson in part because he is a special teams player on a team which has lost several critical members of that group due to injuries. Arians said those injuries helped contribute to allowing a 104-yard kickoff return touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson last week in Minnesota.

"That's the hardest thing that you can possibly do, is put guys in situations they've practiced two days in the National Football League," Arians said. "You're usually going to fail."

Johnson suffered the same groin injury as Branch against the Rams, and Arians had previously been noncommittal about which player would return. Johnson finishes the season with 25 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown.

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