Safety Tyvon Branch to meet with Colts

Reduced by injuries to just five games the past two seasons, free-agent defender expected to be in Indianapolis today.

Former Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch is visiting with the Indianapolis Colts today, according to numerous media reports.

The Colts have yet to fill either safety spot from last season — Sergio Brown is a restricted free agent, Mike Adams is about to become an unrestricted free agent and underachieving former Pro Bowl defender LaRon Landry was released.

While the Colts are reportedly interested in bringing back Adams, who made his first Pro Bowl last season but is 33 and looking at his 12th NFL season, Branch is 28 and has played seven seasons.

The knock on the Raiders safety is his ability to stay healthy — he’s played just five games in the past two seasons due to leg and ankle injuries since signing a four-year, $26.6-million contract in 2012. Oakland released him Tuesday rather than pay him $5.5 million in 2015.

Branch, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, was a fourth-round pick out of Connecticut in 2008 and started 62 of 64 games through 2011. He has 476 tackles, eight sacks, four interceptions and three forced fumbles in his pro career.

His best season was in 2009, when he made a career-best 124 tackles with eight passes defended, one sack and two forced fumbles.

Because of his recent health issues, the Colts presumably could sign Branch for less money than other free agents. He’s expected to visit the Washington Redskins after talking to the Colts.

Scout.com lists Branch 18th among free-agent safeties. Adams is ranked sixth and Brown 25th.

The only player on the Colts roster who played safety last season is Dewey McDonald, an undrafted rookie used primarily on special teams last season.

NFL free agency begins Tuesday.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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