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Robert Alford, And A Return In 2019 Versus 2020

During training camp, guard Justin Pugh was talking about his knee injury in 2018. He went on injured reserve, but if the playoffs had been a possibility, he would've come back to play.

"It wasn't worth it to come back for one week," Pugh said at the time. "We've seen what happens with athletes trying to push it, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, prime examples. And the Cardinals were like, 'We're going to shut you down.' "

That conversation pops into my head every time someone asks me about cornerback Robert Alford, who broke his leg in training camp and has been on injured reserve since the beginning of the regular season. When he first went on IR, there was discussion -- hope, even -- that perhaps he'd be back a few weeks after Patrick Peterson came back, and the Cardinals would be able to have their intended two starting cornerbacks.

But as the Cardinals head into their bye weekend, Alford has yet to practice. When I got the chance to ask Kliff Kingsbury if the door was closed to Alford's return this season, the coach's answer again made me think back to Pugh's situation.

"I wouldn't say closed," Kingsbury said. "He's worked really hard in rehab, and he'd love to come back, but we also want to be smart, for his safety."

There are reasons to wish Alford could play -- his getting a chance to work in a real game within Vance Joseph's defense before heading into the offseason the main one. But again, measuring the risk/reward is a big part of this. Alford had his 2018 jacked up because of lingering injuries. His broken leg was a freak thing, colliding with receiver Damiere Byrd while making a play in practice, but exposing him to bodily harm again this season when the Cardinals won't be playing in the postseason might be a harder sell.

CB Robert Alford with DB coach Greg Williams in 2019 training camp

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