Arizona Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford suffered a torn pectoral muscle in practice Sunday and will have surgery, ending his 2020 season, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.
It will mark the second straight season that Alford, 31, will miss the entire year. Alford has yet to play a game in a Cardinals uniform despite joining the team prior to last year.
He was the first name out of head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s mouth last week when asked for three players or position groups he was anxious to see as camp began.
“We’re pulling for him because he did put in so much work throughout the offseason,” Kingsbury said.
Alford was not in the open portion of practice Monday after he participated in a portion of team workouts Sunday. Also not present on Monday was receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is expected back soon, Kingsbury said. Hopkins is being held out as a precaution due to left hamstring tightness.
Alford recorded 49 tackles with 11 passes defensed in 2018, his last full season with the Atlanta Falcons.
He arrived in Arizona after being released by the Falcons and said an ankle injury he played on for most of that year limited him.
In training camp with the Cardinals last year, Alford looked like a suitable replacement for Patrick Peterson, who was about to miss the first six games of the regular season due to a PED suspension. But Alford injured his leg in mid-August 2019 and missed the entirety of the regular season.
The hope for Arizona was that Peterson and Alford could be healthy by the season opener on Sept. 13, giving defensive coordinator Vance Joseph the personnel to run his attack-style defense that requires two capable cornerbacks who can defend receivers one-on-one on the outside.
With Alford down, it’s expected that backups Chris Jones and Kevin Peterson will receive practice reps opposite Peterson with Byron Murphy sticking to slot duties.