Every NFL team has at least one good wide receiver. Some teams have more than one. And when those teams face the Seahawks, Marcus Trufant is asked to blanket that good receiver...
KIRKLAND Every NFL team has at least one good wide receiver. Some teams have more than one.
And when those teams face the Seahawks, Marcus Trufant is asked to blanket that good receiver and make certain big plays don’t happen on his watch.
It’s easier said than done. Trufant has had his moments in the spotlight, often by himself in single coverage against guys who don’t mind making him look bad.
Such is Trufant’s weekly routine. Only the numbers and names change. Isaac Bruce. Torry Holt. Muhsin Muhammad. Randy Moss. Joe Horn. Eric Moulds. And Sunday, Trufant should see plenty of the New York Jets’ speedy Santana Moss.
“Every week it’s going to be a big-time challenge, and I feel like I have to step up,” the second-year cornerback said. “I think I get a taste of the other team’s best receiver every week. For the most part I haven’t had to follow a guy, but if he comes to my side, I have to go against him. That’s just how we play defense.”
Trufant has been flagged for pass interference several times. He’s been out of position to make a play on occasion. But on the flip side, he’s second on the team behind the Seahawks’ other starting cornerback, Ken Lucas, with 16 pass breakups. Trufant also has three interceptions on a team that is second in the NFL in that category.
Trufant, a good run defender, leads the team in tackles with 73, perhaps because of the Seahawks’ depleted ranks on defense. He has had to make a few of those after a catch.
“I didn’t even know that until the other day,” Trufant said. “(Teammate) Ken Hamlin was joking about it. I guess that’s just one of those things. Probably a combination of me flying around and me having to make a tackle on guys who catch the ball.”
Only one other cornerback in NFL history has finished the season leading his team in tackles Buffalo’s Antoine Winfield had 106 in 2001. He’s now with Minnesota.
Dave Brown had 111 in 1976 to lead the Seahawks, but he was a free safety that season. He spent the rest of his tenure in Seattle as a cornerback.
One thing is for sure, Trufant is as durable as any player the Seahawks have. He hasn’t missed a start since being selected in the first round of the 2003 draft. That’s 29 games, and he has missed only two practices this season.
The cornerback position is one of the more challenging in football, and Trufant has had his ups and downs. Few other players needed a big game, if only to restore a little confidence, as much as Trufant last week against Minnesota.
The Seahawks’ defensive backs were burned last season by Moss and the Vikings in a 34-7 loss. The Vikings hoped to have similar success, knowing they had a size advantage over Trufant and Lucas.
Trufant came through in a big way on Sunday, knocking down three passes in the end zone.
Early in the game, quarterback Daunte Culpepper threw to Moss. Trufant used a burst of speed as the ball neared Moss’ hands and batted away the pass.
Later, Moss drew a pass-interference penalty against Trufant that led to a Vikings touchdown. In the second quarter, Moss got the better of Trufant with a 54-yard catch-and-run play. But Trufant didn’t buckle.
He leaped to break up another pass to Moss in the end zone in the third quarter, and he saved the game when he brushed Culpepper’s final pass of the game, causing it to fall incomplete at the feet of tight end Jermaine Wiggins as time expired. The Seahawks escaped with a 27-23 win.
“You can never lose your aggressiveness. If you get beat, you get beat,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “You can’t lose your confidence. And Tru has that. Do we need him to play well down the stretch? Yes, we certainly do. He’s got to play like he can play, like I know he can play.”
“Season Two has been OK for me,” Trufant said. “I’m pretty hard on myself. I feel I could have been better. Probably around a C or a B, somewhere in there. Always room for improvement.”
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org