Former Bombers’ DB DeAundre Alford an early preseason standout with the Atlanta Falcons

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber DeAundre Alford is setting himself apart in his quest to make the Atlanta Falcons’ active roster.

The five-foot-eleven, 175-pound cornerback has flashed throughout the early portion of training camp, quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite to win a depth spot on the roster. However, he entered Friday’s preseason matchup with the Detroit Lions facing a long climb up from fourth on the depth chart.

He improved his odds with a fantastic outing, making eight tackles, including six solo, and breaking in front of a pass from Detroit quarterback Tim Boyle in the third quarter to haul in a highlight-reel interception.

“It is crazy because last night in my bed, I envisioned myself making plays and I did that when it came my way,” Alford told Fox 5 Atlanta’s Justin Felder post-game.

“Like I said, it’s a dream come true, especially in my first NFL game and just being a part of this organization, the home team. It’s a great feeling and it feels so surreal. I’m just soaking it all in and overall, I just feel blessed.”

Raised in Griffin, Georgia, Alford signed with his hometown Falcons this offseason after a series of workouts with other teams. The 24-year-old cover man had received little NFL interest after a record-setting college career with Division II Tusculum University but became one of the league’s most sought-after CFL signees after just one season in Winnipeg.

Alford joined the Bombers prior to the cancelled 2020 season and seized the team’s starting cornerback job in training camp when play resumed in 2021. He started all 14 games as a rookie, recording 48 tackles and four interceptions. Alford was named a CFL All-Star for his performance and helped Winnipeg capture their second consecutive Grey Cup championship.

He appears to be having the same type of immediate impact early in his NFL experience but there is a price to be paid for the singular focus that made his game-changing play possible. Caught up in the moment, Alford handed the intercepted football to a ball boy and almost lost the priceless souvenir.

“Man, I was so locked in; I had a mindset of next play, next play,” he laughed post-game. “I was so ready to get back in and make another play.”

The football was fortunately recovered by a Falcons assistant, though Alford remained unable to locate it following his team’s 27-23 victory. When he does get his hands on it, he plans to send the trophy to his mother.

Judging by the way he has performed so far in Atlanta, it won’t be the last one she receives.