Cardinals Search High and Low for Safety Replacements

Howard Balzer

The one constant at safety for the Cardinals in the first three games of the season has been Pro Bowler Budda Baker, but that appears likely to change next Sunday when the team could travel to Carolina without him after he undergoes surgery on an ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right thumb. Baker has missed one snap in each of the first three games of the season.

The team is expecting Baker to miss the game against the Panthers although ProFootballDoc.com’s Dr. David Chao told AllCardinals he believes Baker could possibly play this week.

Monday, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked about the hope of getting Baker back in Week 5 and how much the team will miss his ability in the back end.

Said Kingsburgy, “He's one of the best players in the league and makes a lot of things right defensively when he's back there. We'll see how the procedure goes and take it from there, but hopefully sooner rather than later on that.”

There are also now issues at the other safety spot, which started in the season opener against San Francisco. Jalen Thompson played two snaps in Week 1 before suffering an ankle injury that currently has him on reserve/injured.

Chris Banjo filled Thompson’s role until exiting Sunday’s game against Detroit after 18 snaps because of a hamstring injury. After Banjo left the game, Deionte Thompson, who was inactive in Week 1, played 37 snaps and Curtis Riley, who was signed off the Steelers’ practice squad prior to Week 2, played 12.

Kingsbury said Banjo is “a day-to-day deal.” As for Thompson’s play, the head coach said, “I thought DT stepped in and had some good moments, had some things we got to get better at. But for the limited time that he's seen real live game action, I was proud of how he handled himself.”

With many outsiders clamoring for rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons to potentially be used at safety because he’s playing limited snaps at inside linebacker, Kingsbury said, “Isaiah is a guy who played multiple positions, obviously there at Clemson. Has a feel for some of that and with those bodies being down, we may have to look into that.”

That could be a better option than looking at players that are coming off an ACL tear (Tony Jefferson) or who haven’t played in three years (T.J. Ward). Reports that originally slated Jefferson coming to Arizona for a workout have subsequently retracted those claims after Jefferson's agent reportedly informed the Cardinals he is not physically ready to play.

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