Report: Cardinals Working Out Former Safety Tony Jefferson

Howard Balzer

Sometimes NFL teams get serious runs of injuries at certain positions and that’s certainly been the case at safety for the Cardinals this season.

The latest involve Pro Bowler Budda Baker and backup Chris Banjo.

Baker played all but one of the team’s 67 defensive snaps Sunday while protecting a reported ulnar collateral ligament tear in his thumb that he and head coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed is to be repaired "very soon."

The Cardinals are expecting him to miss at least Sunday’s game against Carolina, although ProFootballDoc.com’s Dr. David Chao — who served as the Chargers team doctor for 17 years — believes it’s possible he could play this week after surgery.

Still, the Cardinals have to be prepared. Especially since Chris Banjo played just 18 snaps Sunday after injuring his hamstring. Banjo has been starting since Jalen Thompson suffered an ankle injury on the second snap of the season opener against San Francisco, which was followed by his placement on reserve/injured.

After Banjo exited Sunday’s game, Deionte Thompson ended up playing 37 snaps and Curtis Riley 12. The non-injured Thompson was inactive in Week 1 and played two defensive snaps against Washington in Week 2.

Riley was signed to Arizona's active roster Sept. 17, prior to the Washington game, off Pittsburgh’s practice squad and played two special teams snaps in Week 2.

To fill the apparent void, the Cardinals are bringing in their former safety Tony Jefferson — who played for the franchise from 2013-16 — for a tryout, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, the club’s flagship station. Gambadoro said the workout will occur once Jefferson clears COVID-19 protocols.

The 5-foot-11, 212-pound Jefferson entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals in 2013 and, in four seasons, played 63 games with 31 starts. He recorded 277 tackles (225 solo), 20 for loss, five sacks, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions,

He signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2017, but played only five games last season before suffering a torn ACL. He was released by the Ravens on Feb. 14 and has not been with a team since then.

UPDATE: Gambadoro reported that Jefferson's agent informed the Cardinals that he is not healthy enough to play. Of course, that should have been known from the beginning.

In other tryout news, the Cardinals also bringing in veteran safety T.J. Ward for a tryout, per NFL Media's Tom Pelissero. Ward played eight seasons in the NFL from 2010-17 with Cleveland (four years), Denver (three years) and Tampa Bay (one year). He has not been on an NFL roster since.

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