Desmond Trufant, Nickel Back?

Kevin C. Cox

Rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant was featured primarily as the nickel back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and performed admirably.

The Falcons took a slightly different approach on defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was on the sideline, instead of up in the coaches' box, and Dave wrote about the impact, if any, that had on the game. The other major difference was swapping out rookie Desmond Trufant for Robert McClain in the nickel.

Trufant performed extremely well, earning a positive rating from Pro Football Focus, and allowing just six completions on 12 targets. Tampa Bay's top receiver, Vincent Jackson, was the intended receiver on nine of those targets, and Trufant allowed Jackson to pull in just four of those targets for a total of 40 yards, and no touchdowns. Twelve of those yards came after the catch.

Trufant successfully kept Vincent Jackson out of the end zone with a timely red zone pass deflection. Jackson did have two receiving touchdowns, but they came in coverage against Thomas DeCoud and Asante Samuel, respectively. Trufant also managed a forced fumble, stripping the ball from Vincent Jackson after a 10-yard reception.

It's worth noting that rookie Robert Alford, starting outside in place of Trufant, also performed well in coverage. Alford allowed one completion on three targets for a total of eleven yards.

The Bucs adjusted their offensive game plan to try to exploit Trufant against Jackson, and Trufant lived up to the challenge. If there's one consistent complaint about Trufant's play, it's his tendency to not turn his head in coverage to look for the ball, but that is correctable.

Were you pleased with the decision to use Trufant in the nickel, and his performance against Vincent Jackson?

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