A fly in the otherwise clean ointment of the Detroit Lions' Week 4 win over the division rival Green Bay Packers was an ankle injury for stud rookie defensive back Brian Branch. The injury looked pretty bad live, so that it was "only" an ankle issue felt like a small win. And Branch, after having his ankle taped up heavily, returned to the game against Green Bay.
So maybe, with extra time after a Thursday night game, he wouldn't have to miss any games.
But Branch did not practice at all as he missed the last two games with the injury. If the Carolina Panthers had been equipped to exploit his replacement (Will Harris) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't have some near-misses in targeting Harris, Branch's absence would have been more noticeable and lamented.
With the Baltimore Ravens and a different offense led by Lamar Jackson on the slate for the Lions in Week 7, Branch's return to action would be particularly welcome for the defense. Not that his return wouldn't be welcome at any point.
Detroit Lions Week 7 injury update: Is Brian Branch going to play vs. the Ravens?
Branch returned to practice as a limited participant on Wednesday, and he was listed as a limited participant again on Thursday. So that progress in practice activity points to the strong possibility he will play on Sunday against the Ravens.
Reporters in the locker room on Thursday got an update on Branch's status from a top, very informed and credible source.
Via Ben Raven of MLive, Branch said his absence provided a unique opportunity for mental reps.
"The one thing that I took, that I wasn’t really used to was I could put the headset on and like hear the coaches call the plays,” Branch said. “I thought that was cool. Shoot, felt like I was real-life Madden.”
Not that he would say anything other than he's going to or expects to play when asked, but it looks like Branch will return in Week 7 against the Ravens.