This week’s Thursday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals will feature the walking wounded. We know about NaVorro Bowman, DeForest Buckner, Jimmie Ward, and Carson Palmer. On Tuesday, the Cardinals placed running back Chris Johnson and defensive back Tyvon Branch on injured reserve.
Johnson is dealing with a groin injury, and could be brought back as the team’s one return. Johnson left after 16 snaps in Week 4, and was replaced by Andre Ellington as David Johnson’s backup. The Cardinals also have Stepfan Taylor. More than likely this just means David Johnson is going to get a sizable workload against the 49ers weakened defensive front. He has not had more than 19 carries this season, but I could see that workload increasing on Thursday.
Branch is also dealing with a groin injury suffered in Week 4. The Cardinals signed Branch to a two-year deal this offseason, with the goal of using him in their numerous sub-packages. He was also viewed as insurance for Tyrann Mathieu, but the latter was able to get back in time for Week 1. Over the first three weeks, Branch played in 72 percent, 84 percent, and 61 percent of defensive snaps. He played in 39 percent on Sunday due to his injury. The 49ers will send out a lot of three- and four-receiver sets on Thursday, so D.J. Swearinger or Tharold Simon would be the players to watch in Cardinals sub-packages.