Both running back Chris Johnson and safety Tyvon Branch went on injured reserve on Oct. 4, and a potential return date -- for only one of them -- is the Dec. 4 game against the Redskins. For his part, Johnson said he is "ahead of schedule" in his rehab from a groin injury (Branch suffered the same injury) and is optimistic about his availability to practice two weeks before that.
The new rule this season declares that while one player can return from injured reserve (it's always been just one), teams do not have to declare which one is coming back. So both Johnson and Branch are in play. (In contrast, when the Cardinals put Johnson on IR last year with his knee injury, they said it was IR-to-return.) If chosen to return, players can return to practice after six weeks on the sideline, and play eight weeks later.
At the time Johnson and Branch went on the list, coach Bruce Arians said the decision on which one would return -- and those two are the only real options on IR right now to come back -- would not only be based on rate of recovery but also positional need.
As of now, running back actually would seem to be a greater need, with the number of touches starter David Johnson is receiving along with the depth in the secondary. While Tyrann Mathieu is still rounding into form, he isn't leaving the lineup, and the other two safeties -- Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger -- are playing well. If the Cardinals can maneuver through the next four games (the bye is mixed in there), bringing Johnson back for a playoff push over the final five games makes sense.