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Free agent S T.J. Ward to work out for Cardinals, Tony Jefferson will not

Safety T.J. Ward with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Free agent safety Tony Jefferson will not work out for the Arizona Cardinals after his agent told the team his client is not in condition to play, reports Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

Arizona will continue searching for healthy bodies and get a look at two-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward, the 33-year-old who last played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017.

Jefferson initially planned to work out and visit the Cardinals, the team that gave him his NFL start in 2013, but had to first clear coronavirus protocols, according to Gambadoro. The 28-year-old safety is coming off an October 2019 ACL injury.

The workout with Ward comes as Arizona expects to enter preparation for Week 4 without Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker, who is expected to undergo thumb surgery. Baker expects to miss at least one game.

The Cardinals also lost fellow starting safety Chris Banjo to a hamstring injury in their 26-23 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Banjo started Weeks 2 and 3 after starting safety Jalen Thompson went down with an ankle injury a handful of snaps into a Week 1 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

On Sunday, second-year man Deionte Thompson replaced Banjo and finished with four tackles. Backup safety Curtis Riley, who was signed off the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad two weeks ago, also saw 12 defensive snaps against Detroit.

Ward played for the Cleveland Browns (2010-13) and Denver Broncos (2014-16) and made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. He has 107 career games under his belt after becoming Cleveland’s second-round pick in 2010.

Ward has eight interceptions, 44 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, 8.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and 607 career tackles.

Jefferson was released by the Baltimore Ravens in February after playing five games of last season and suffering an ACL tear on Oct. 6, 2019.

He hinted at a potential return with a post to Twitter on Monday.

The physical 5-foot-11 safety went undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2013 but made the Cardinals roster and recorded 24 tackles as a rookie. By his second season, he was a regular for Arizona’s defense.

In 63 career games with the Cardinals, Jefferson tallied 277 tackles, 5.0 sacks, two interceptions, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.


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