It was the 1-on-1 passing drills early in today’s Jets training camp practice, and Isaiah Trufant was running stride for stride with Vidal Hazelton, a 5’8″ corner working to rise above a 6’2″ wideout.
What’s more, Trufant was trying to do the impossible so far this camp: pick off rookie QB Geno Smith.
On this play, 5’8″ stood tall.
“Was that Geno?” Trufant said, genuinely seeming not to know that Smith, who reportedly hadn’t been intercepted in the first four days of camp, had finally been picked. “He’s an exceptional athlete. He has great placement on the ball. As a DB, it’s always tough to try and go get those picks. Sometimes they can fall in there for you, sometimes you’ve got to go get them.”
It’s a great story that Trufant was able to go get this one and has looked good back in his role of nickel corner and back-end buzzsaw. He was having a decent season last year, topped by his showing vs. Wes Welker up at New England in Week 7, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury two weeks later at Seattle.
“I started to feel myself again a little bit in minicamp,” he said of his rehab process. “Then that break helped a lot. Really within that break it started to come around.”
Isaiah Trufant knows it’s never going to be easy. He’s only a third-year NFL player but you can make him a 10th-season player if you count in his seasons with the Spokane Shock, Kansas City Brigade and Arizona Rattlers in the Arena leagues and the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives. Now he’s in camp with Dee Milliner, the first-round pick who was in pads but limited at today’s practice and was conducting his own news update with reporters about 20 yards behind us.
“I don’t worry about those things,” Trufant said about such personnel issues as a first-round pick costing the former free agent a roster spot. “I just focus on me doing the best things I can do. Some things may be out of my hands, out of my control. I can’t dwell on those things.”
He’s therefore not dwelling much on the Jets’ Week 2 date with the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., when he could, if things break well and the game plan calls for it, be covering Danny Amendola, not Welker, who’s now a Bronco.
“It could be,” Trufant said. “I’m just going to be ready for whatever position I’m put in. Whether it’s special teams or defense, I’ve got to be ready.”
Both Smith and Mark Sanchez had down days throwing the ball. Sanchez returned to run with the first offense. He threw a screen that was batted in the air and almost picked off by a roaring Muhammad Wilkerson, and suffered a pick by Antonio Cromartie. Sanchez also threw one TD pass but Stephen Hill couldn’t hold onto another. Yet Hill made a beautiful leaping snag of a Sanchez downfield throw.
Head coach Rex Ryan on Sanchez: “I think everybody gets enamored with anybody who can throw a 96-mile-per-hour fastball. Mark certainly has a good enough arm to play in this league, he’s done it.” … Ryan on Geno: “Holding the football concerns me a little bit. If I could point to a negative, we’re going to take some hits. But along those lines, he has confidence, he’s got poise, he’s hanging in there, and he’s very accurate with the football.”
Ryan said third-round rookie Brian Winters got some work at guard with the ones today because Stephen Peterman had “a little bit of a shoulder.” “But certainly we said there’s going to be competition at that guard spot.” … First-round DL Sheldon Richardson didn’t practice due to some dental issues. “One tooth needs to come out,” said Rex, “and he maybe needs a root canal in another.” … Today’s attendance: 1,333.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Danny Amendola, Geno Smith, Isaiah Trufant, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan, Vidal Hazelton, Wes Welker
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