Desmond Trufant's contract dispute wasn't familiar territory for Falcons fans. While Sam Baker missed his first practice in 2008, no other rookie had held out during the Dimitroff era. It's hard to believe that at this time last year, the Falcons were still almost a month away from signing Trufant.
When the Falcons finally reached a deal with Trufant's camp on July 24, 2013, he reported to camp and silenced his doubters, myself included. It's not easy transitioning to the NFL, no matter what position you play. Aside from quarterbacks, corner backs have the steepest learning curve. No matter his potential, had Trufant struggled more often as a rookie, we'd have understood. But he didn't, notwithstanding all the chatter about the better corner backs the Falcons didn't draft instead. And as the Falcons' Daniel Cox points out, Trufant's participation in the entirety of this off-season should pay additional dividends.
Last season during OTAs, the Falcons were missing someone who would prove to be highly valuable on defense during the season. First-round pick. Desmond Trufant, along with Levine Toilolo, missed all of OTAs because they returned to school to finish their degrees. Both players' PAC-10 schools operate on a quarter system and Trufant and Toilolo couldn't join the Falcons full-time until they were done.
Trufant did just fine last season. Actually he did better than "just fine." He exceeded expectations and frankly, he was one of the better corners in the league in 2013. But there's no substitute for classroom time and repetition. If I had to guess, much of Trufant's success last year was rooted in pure instinct and natural ability. With additional classroom time, strength training, and more exposure to the coaching staff, Trufant should only improve.