Heading into Thursday’s preseason opener, the competitive battle between Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford for the starting cornerback position across from Asante Samuel will take on a new stage in their first ever NFL game.
At the moment, the Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Trufant still has a firm grip on the starting cornerback position, but the Falcons other rookie cornerback, Alford, isn’t going down without a fight.
The two corners are very different in many ways, yet they share the same foundation, which is their competitive spirit and confidence that has Pro Bowler Roddy White‘s admiration. Earlier in the week, White and his teammates have said on numerous occasions that they are impressed that both corners are attacking the receivers instead of being passive.
During training camp, the young corners have learned many things. Going up against White and Julio Jones, arguably two of the best receivers in the NFL, has humbled them and at the same time, fired them up as well. The learning curve has included very short-term memories, gambling has severe consequences and they have learned the true definition of what it means to get burned, as if they were trying to guard the DC Comic superhero Flash.
As Trufant comes from a big school and his counterpart from a small school, they both learn differently and take away different things even from the same event. For Trufant, who was the best cover corner in the 2013 NFL Draft, he realized that the only way to defend an elite NFL receiver is to have the right technique.
“You’ve just got to be (focused on your) technique first,” Trufant said. “You can’t try to make plays without doing your technique. It’s technique first and then the plays will come after that. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.”
During practice and in training camp, Alford displayed his physicality, as he continues to fight Trufant who was penciled in as the starter even before they took the practice field. In his short career as a football player, the 5-foot-10 Alford always heard how he wasn’t good enough. Today, he uses that as his motivation and is determined to prove that he can fly with the Dirty Birds.
“I came from a small school and a lot of people told me I couldn’t make it,” Alford said. “I have a big chip on my shoulder and I knew I had to prove myself. I carried it onto into the NFL now. Just because I got drafted high doesn’t mean I’m going to let my chip fall. I still have to go out here every day, compete and keep carrying that chip on my shoulder.”
As the rooks prepare for their first ever preseason NFL game this Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals, both Alford and Trufant are looking forward in going after an opposing opponent with a different colored uniform.
“I’m definitely excited for the first game,” Trufant said. “It’s my first NFL game. I’m just going to be aggressive and go out there and play anxiety-free.”
For Falcons fans, this will be an exciting game, as they will get to preview for the first time a talented secondary that has the potential to be an opposing blockade to their opponents in 2013.
Though Alford and Trufant will be trying to out-do one another on the field, in the end they are both Falcons and when you put a minus and plus together, look out.
The duo rookie corners will be taking their fight to the preseason, and if its anything like we saw during practice, the Falcons may have found two gems that should last a long time.