New Bears cornerback Trufant says he's past nagging hamstring injury
The hamstring injury simply wouldn't go away.
Then-Detroit Lions cornerback Desmond Trufant injured his hamstring in Week 1 last year against the Bears at Ford Field in Detroit. There are a lot worse injuries than a hamstring, but the thing about a hamstring injury is that it can linger.
In Trufant's case, it lingered.
He sat out the next two games, played through it in Week 4, then sat out the following three games. He returned to the field for a stretch of four games in the middle of the season, but tweaked the injury yet again. Following Week 12, he went on injured reserve and his short one-year stint with the Lions was effectively over.
Detroit released him earlier this month. He played a grand total of six games with the Lions.
"I came back a little too early the first time," Trufant said Thursday. "I tweaked it and it kind of just lingered on. I played four or five games, played pretty solid, and then it went out on me again. It was just one of those years. It's hard to explain."
Trufant, 30, signed a one-year contract with the Bears last week. He will be given the unenviable task of replacing All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller, who the Bears released in a surprise move and who has since signed with the Denver Broncos.
Trufant has been a reliable starting cornerback in the NFL before. Before joining Detroit, he played seven years with the Atlanta Falcons and started 97 of a possible 112 games. In five of those seasons, he started at least 15 games. In 2015, he went to the Pro Bowl and a year later he helped the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance.
The ability is there. The question at this point in his career is whether he can stay healthy. Last year's lingering hamstring injury doesn't help the argument.
But the good news is Trufant believes the worst of it is behind him.
"I'm doing different things with my recovery," Trufant said. "I'm just training those areas: my hips, my hamstrings, just the whole pelvis area, to have more strength and more durability. I'm healthy now. I'm working and grinding. So I'm looking forward and ready to make an impact."
As the Bears roster stands right now, Trufant and second-year pro Jaylon Johnson are looking like the starting cornerbacks in 2021. Third-year pro Duke Shelley and second-year pro Kindle Vildor will also be in the mix for playing time. It's possible the Bears add another cornerback in the draft, too.
Trufant battled with younger guys for playing time last year in Detroit, and from the sounds of it, there's no guarantee he will be the starter come Week 1. Trufant said Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai told him he "wants to give me the opportunity to come in and compete."
"He told me he was glad I was there, that he likes my game," Trufant said. "He likes how I play. He said I fit right in with the scheme and how we play, how he wants the corners to be aggressive."
Trufant isn't fazed about replacing Fuller. Fuller was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Bears, including an All-Pro season in 2018. Cutting him saved the Bears about $11 million in salary cap space, but created a hole at cornerback.
"There's great players everywhere," Trufant said. "I've got a lot of respect for him. He's done it at a high level for a long time, but this is the game. No matter where I'm at or what I'm doing, I'm trying to dominate. I'm trying to be the best I can be on the field. I'm just looking forward to bonding with my new teammates and learning this playbook."