At the end of this summer’s training camp, the Raiders cut Brandian Ross.
There was a logjam at safety and Ross was odd man out.
Ross then signed with the Dolphins, but in September he was waived by Miami. Suddenly, he was back in silver and black when Oakland re-signed him for backup depth after starting safety Tyvon Branch was injured.
Now Ross will be back in the starting lineup this Sunday in Cleveland when the 0-6 Raiders try to get their first victory, just as he was last year.
In 2013, Ross stepped in for Branch. Now he’s stepping in for Usama Young – lost for the season when injured in this past Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals – who had replaced Branch.
It’s been musical chairs at the safety spot next to veteran Charles Woodson this season, and now it’s Ross’ turn to help turn the troubled Raiders defense around.
“It’s not the scenario I want to be in because I don’t like seeing my boys hurt, with Tyvon and U, but I’m better prepared,” Ross told a reporter this week, comparing 2014 with 2013. “A year under my belt definitely helped, and the things I’ve been able to go through this offseason and during training camp actually helped, so I’m ready to step up.”
Last season, Ross started 13 games and contributed 101 tackles and two sacks.
When the Raiders signed Ross in September, head coach Dennis Allen (since fired) figured Ross would be a solid addition because of his experience.
“What we’re doing defensively isn’t a ton different than what we’ve done,” said Allen, at the time.
Ross, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Youngstown State, will try to do his part to make the Raiders defense more effective, particularly on third down, where they rank dead last in the NFL in stopping opponents.
He says one inspiration he has is Woodson, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer who’s still flying all over the field making plays. Against the Cardinals, Woodson had a terrific game that included an interception.
Ross told reporters that Woodson is “almost 100,” yet is playing with energy, fire and intelligence.
“If he can do it at this stage, why can’t I,” said Ross. “That’s what I really learned from him last year and then having the opportunity to watch him when I was in Miami, watching him play, I’m like, he’s still doing it, so make sure that when my opportunity comes that I’m playing the same way.”
For Ross, that opportunity has arrived. He gets his chance Sunday against the Browns.