Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant hopes to regain Pro Bowl form of 2007
No, his back wasn't quite right, and yes, that clearly affected his play in 2009. But the way Trufant sees it, he was out there on the field, so he should have performed.
"I never had an excuse," the Seahawks cornerback says now. "I played last year, and I didn't play as well as I'd have liked to for myself or the team."
But even if Trufant won't use the back injury that cost him six games last season as an excuse, it was clear that Marcus Trufant, the 2009 version, was not the same player that made the Pro Bowl two seasons earlier.
"Just being on the field with him, I noticed that there were some plays that I'd seen him make a million times, and he wasn't making those plays," cornerback Josh Wilson said. "I know it was eating him up alive, but that's one thing about him, he's going to keep fighting and he's going to get it right."
The good news for the Seahawks in 2010 is that Trufant appears to be back to his pre-injury form this preseason. Last year he looked sluggish at times; this year Trufant is explosive. Last season there were pass interference penalties; this summer there have been interceptions. Obviously the regular season will be the real test, but so far, all signs point to Trufant bouncing back from a forgettable 2009.
"He looks like the same old Tru," Wilson said. "I came here my rookie year, and all I knew was Pro Bowl Tru. I didn't know anything else. I was like, 'This guy's a beast.' He's getting back to that, he's making plays, and that's what it's all about: making plays."
Following a Pro Bowl season in 2007, Trufant signed a six-year deal worth $50 million, then suffered along with the rest of the team through a 4-12 season in 2008 that saw the Seahawks finish dead last in passing defense. Last season the Seahawks and Trufant both expected a turnaround, but in a workout prior to training camp, he suffered what was first categorized as a minor back injury. As training camp went on, however, it became apparent that the injury was more serious.
Trufant ended up missing the first six games of the season with a disc injury in his back. And when Trufant was able to come back, it looked as if he wasn't ready.
Playing in just 10 games, Trufant led the NFL in defensive penalties with nine, including seven pass interference calls. A lockdown corner in the past, Trufant was beat by receivers far more often than he was used to. On a particularly rough day in Houston, Texans Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson blew past Trufant on the first play from scrimmage for a 64-yard touchdown. Johnson finished with 11 catches for 193 yards and two touchdowns with a decent chunk of those numbers coming at Trufant's expense.
"That was a tough season, it was tough all the way around," Trufant said. "The PIs, getting beat for touchdowns, I know that's not me. I felt like I let the team down. I've just got to show up this year and try to do my best."
Trufant will turn 30 in December, and while plenty of cornerbacks have enjoyed success into their 30s -- Green Bay's Charles Woodson was a first-team All Pro last season as a 33-year-old -- he knows he needs to show people that last year was an aberration caused by a back injury, not a sign that his skills are eroding.
"I'm a competitor, so I want to prove it to myself," Trufant said, "prove it to my team, prove it to everybody."
So far this preseason, Trufant is doing just that.
No surprises in first round of cuts
One day before the NFL deadline to trim rosters from 75 to 80, the Seahawks waived DE Ricky Foley, WR Kole Heckendorf, G Gregg Peat and K Clint Stitser. All were long shots to make the team. Seattle also waived/injured DT Jonathan Lewis, who broke his thumb in Saturday's preseason loss to Minnesota.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog
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