Camp K report: Cardinals CB Alford talking, scuffling and showing out
GLENDALE, Ariz. — It already became clear Robert Alford wanted to bring it during training camp.
As much as the Arizona Cardinals have stayed away from contact with health on their minds, he has been one of the most physical players on the field. He’s also been one of the loudest toward his teammates.
On Tuesday, Alford sparked the first fight in training camp when he got into a brief skirmish with receiver Damiere Byrd during one-on-one drills. After grabbing onto Byrd during one rep and then colliding with him to force a second incompletion on the pair’s next turn, they exchanged words and a few swings as teammates quickly broke the scuffle up.
“At the end of the day though, man, we’re teammates,” Alford said minutes later on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo. “I’m a competitor. I’m pretty sure he’s a competitor, too. That’s something that’s going to happen.”
The Cardinals said they loved Alford’s competitiveness when they signed him to a three-year deal in February. Coming off arguably his roughest NFL season that wasn’t helped by an ankle injury, Alford has made himself known in camp.
Alford recorded at least two pass breakups Tuesday and ended the first team’s two-minute drill with a pick of rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. He’s been an up-beat — if not volatile — energy for the defense since camp began.
“He talks but he also backs it up,” safety Budda Baker said.
Rookie receiver KeeSean Johnson, though he’s not matched up with Alford much, has been on the receiving end of the corner’s smack talk.
“Personally, I feel as a young player it’s only going to help you get better,” Johnson said. “I just look at him, kind of laugh him off. He’s a good guy. He wants you to get better.
“I haven’t went against him that much. If he’s on the sideline and I’m in, or if I’m in and he’s on the other side, he’ll be like, ’19, I don’t see you.’ He’ll call me out. Just gotta keep making plays for him to see me.”
Johnson did that Tuesday. He impressed again with two contested grabs — one for a first down while falling out of bounds and another for a touchdown — before he closed the practice with a 70-yard touchdown on a deep ball from quarterback Brett Hundley.
While Johnson and Alford could compete for player of the day, it was the veteran earning the edge — if only because he’s just a lot louder.
“I’m a very high-energy guy. I’m very competitive. Each and every day, I’ma bring it. Aye, I’ma talk my trash, I’ma make plays. Shoot, the rest is in the air, what happens,” Alford said Saturday. “Not too many of them be talking back besides Larry (Fitzgerald).”
So is everyone good with the smack talk, including Byrd?
“We’re all brothers but we got to compete on the field,” Baker said. “They shook hands after and they’re good now.”
— Murray has thrown his interceptions during camp so far, if only because his confidence and ability to throw accurate balls into traffic has usually ended well for him. He made deep connections with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in various drills Tuesday, the latter of whom, by the way, looks prime for a big season.
— Rookie cornerback Byron Murphy moved into the first team nickelback slot on Tuesday as veteran Tramaine Brock sat out of practice, potentially as a veterans day off. He was on the sidelines without a helmet.
— The Cardinals did not put on full pads and had very limited contact on Tuesday.
— Safety D.J. Swearinger remained out with a soft tissue injury. He was getting his rest while moving around the facility on his hoverboard.