Head coach Bruce Arians told Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site that Branch suffered a groin tear Sunday at Miami, marking the defensive back's second such injury of the season. The aggravation contained Branch to six appearances in his initial campaign with the team, which resulted in 28 tackles (25 solo) and four passes defended. He has one year remaining on his current contract.
Branch has been ruled out of Sunday's contest in Miami due to a groin injury.
Branch resided on injured reserve for seven games with a groin injury before his activation for last Sunday's win against the Redskins. If the current concern is indeed an aggravation, his first season with the Cardinals could soon be over. At the moment, the defense currently boasts two healthy safeties with Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) inactive Sunday.
Branch -- who hasn't suited up since Week 4 -- was one of three viable candidates Arizona could have chosen to bring back from IR. While it's unclear when he'll first be ready to play again, his impending availability should bolster a defensive unit that has surrendered at least 30 points in each of the past two weeks.
The Cardinals had three legitimate candidates to return this season -- also, Chris Johnson (groin) and Alani Fua (knee) -- but will opt for relief on the defensive side of the equation. While Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) has settled into the slot cornerback spot (when healthy) in Branch's stead, the latter should earn snaps when defensive coordinator James Bettcher trots out six (or more) defensive backs down the stretch.
Branch was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
A safety for most of his career, Branch has mostly worked as a slot cornerback this season while Tyrann Mathieu has been eased back into the fold as a traditional safety. D.J. Swearinger replaced Branch in the slot during Sunday's loss to the Rams, but it may be only a matter of time until Mathieu returns to his hybrid role. The Cardinals can bring one player back from IR after a minimum eight-week absence, with Branch and Chris Johnson (groin) currently the leading candidates.
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