|Brandian Ross has excelled at numerous positions on the Raiders defense this season. (US Presswire)|
Brandian Ross is listed as the backup right cornerback on the Raiders' depth chart. And the backup free safety. But that only tells part of the story about this former Packers practice squad player turned Raiders jack of all defensive back trades.
Ross has been forced to fill in at cornerback and free safety this month because of injuries that have hit almost every starter in the secondary. He's also played some nickel slot corner and spent some time at the "Joker" position, a hybrid safety/cornerback.
"I've liked what I've seen out of him the last few weeks," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He's done a nice job. He gives us some flexibility. ... He's a guy that we've learned more about, and we've gotten an opportunity to play him a little bit more the last few weeks, and he's done some nice things. I would anticipate seeing him more."
There's a chance Allen could see Ross make his first career NFL start Sunday at San Diego, in place of injured right cornerback Phillip Adams. Adams suffered a groin injury last week at Carolina and missed practiced Wednesday and Thursday, with Ross taking his spot with the first team defense.
"I'm ready to start," Ross said. "I prepare to start at every position every week so I'm not surprised if I'm ever called to start."
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Ross has been preparing to play multiple positions since his high school days in Virginia. He played quarterback, wide receiver cornerback and safety at Meadowbrook High School.
"I had two high school coaches who were like mentors," Ross said. "They told me from Day 1, 'The more you can do, the more valuable you'll become.' I took that mindset into college and learned everything as fast as I could, and I have the same mindset now."
At Youngstown State, Ross played safety his first three seasons before he switched to cornerback. He said his favorite position is the one that lets him get on the field and help his team.
"I just want to play," Ross said. "I feel like I can do multiple things, and if I'm able to be used in a defense where I'm at a different position, maybe I can help the defense more. I'm not too focused about being in one spot. I'd rather be moving around because it allows me to make more plays."
Ross signed with the Packers in July 2011 as an undrafted rookie and spent last season on Green Bay's practice squad. He spent much of that year learning from cornerback-turned-safety Charles Woodson, a former Raider who has played multiple roles during his career.
"I watched everything he did, from how he covered bigger guys and tight ends and guys who might have been quick, and how he played safety," Ross said. "I just watched his every move and tried to learn as much as I can from him because he is a hybrid type guy who can play multiple positions.
"He talked me through a lot when I got there. ... When we were in meeting rooms or if there were any questions I did have for him, he had no problem sitting down with me, explaining it to me. He actually told me a way to watch film to help me prepare for playing different positions. He helped me out a lot."
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Ross said he had an offer to join another NFL team's 53-man roster late last season but that current Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, then a Packers personnel executive, convinced him to finish the year on Green Bay's practice squad.
Ross wound up again on Green Bay's practice squad this season after the Packers waived him at the end of training camp. When McKenzie offered him a spot of the Raiders 53-man roster on Sept. 19, Ross didn't hesitate to sign.
By the time Ross arrived in Oakland, he had already missed the first two games -- as well as all of the offseason workouts and training camp. He had to learn on the run.
"The hardest part was really getting used to the guys around me, playing with them on the field, because everyone has their strengths and weaknesses," Ross said. "Figuring those out, knowing where I'm able to take chances and make plays, things like that, was kind of hard.
"Other than that, the scheme itself was pretty easy for me to learn because I played in Dom Capers' defense, which is a multiple defense, and that was like learning Chinese to me. So I figured if I can pit that up at two positions, I could pick this up at multiple positions."
Allen said it took Ross "a little while to get a feel for the scheme" in Oakland after switching teams midstream.
"And then it takes us a while to really get a chance to get comfortable with him, too," Allen added. "And so obviously with some of the injury situations we've faced (in the secondary), we were able to get him into the game.
"He took advantage of the opportunities that he had, and that's what's key. You don't know when those opportunities are going to come, but when you get the opportunity you've got to take advantage of it because you may not get a second chance. He took advantage of the opportunity."
Follow Raiders reporter Eric Gilmore on Twitter @CBSRaiders.