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Desmond Trufant’s largely untested greatness

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He is great, and quarterbacks have learned to stay away from him.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Minicamp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One of the fascinating things about training camp is that you get to see a quarterback deliberately throwing a football toward Desmond Trufant, who actually picks the occasional pass and plays his usual brand of stellar coverage. When you see more putting qualifiers in there, it’s for a good reason.

That reason? Nobody throws at Desmond Trufant.

Trufant was generally matched up against one of a given team’s top two wide receivers, and he was thrown on just 54 times. That he allowed 32 receptions on those targets is not particularly telling, because the sample size is relatively small and those 32 receptions went for just 70 additional yards, as you’ll note above. What’s noteworthy is that teams are barely trying to target his man.

This highlights two things: Trufant is at the point in his career already where his reputation is so outsized that quarterbacks instinctively fear him and will rarely go after him, which means whoever he’s covering is effectively taken out of the game for long stretches. The other thing, of course, is that the Falcons need their other cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers to be up to snuff in coverage, because they’re going to receive a larger share of those targets. That’s why Alford’s quiet excellence has been key, and that’s why the likes of Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and (eventually) Jalen Collins will be critical to the team’s pass defense.

I think if teams did go after Trufant more often, we’d see his interception numbers rise and even more praise heading his way, but I’m fine with the status quo. I suspect the Falcons are, too.