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Jaguars 2013 OTAs: Trufant liking surroundings


JACKSONVILLE – Marcus Trufant looks at his new surroundings and likes what he sees.

That's not insignificant, because the veteran cornerback has seen what it takes to play secondary as Gus Bradley wants it played.

Trufant smiled on Thursday when asked about the young players playing around him the last few weeks in the Jaguars' secondary, and while not the smile of a job completed, it was very much one of a guy who sees something good coming soon.

Maybe very, very soon.

"It can definitely work," Trufant said Thursday after the sixth of 10 scheduled 2013 organized team activities practices at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields just outside EverBank Field. "The natural ability is there."

Yes, it may take time in the secondary. And who knows? The way the Jaguars' are approaching things in Bradley's first year as head coach, there may be more roster moves.

Trufant was among those moves recently. The Jaguars signed him as a free agent May 7, and he likely has a chance to be a significant contributor as a nickel back.

But one of Trufant's roles is to help the young secondary learn Bradley's defensive scheme. An 11-year veteran who spent 10 years in Seattle – the last four under Bradley – Trufant said learning the style is a process, but it's a process that's going well thus far.

"The size, the strength, the speed – it's all there," Trufant said. "It comes down to getting the scheme. Everybody's buying in to the techniques and the scheme and how you have to run it. I think it's starting to come together."

It's critical that is true. Bradley's defense emphasizes press, aggressive coverage, a style that effects more than just the secondary. When Bradley talks about aggressive defense, playing press is what he's talking about more than exotic blitzing. The hope is that effective press coverage will help a pass rush that has struggled in recent seasons.

The importance of the secondary was obvious from the start.

The Jaguars overhauled the area early this offseason, releasing cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Dawan Landry and opting to not re-sign cornerbacks Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and William Middleton. As first-year General Manager David Caldwell said during the draft, that created urgency at the spot, and the Jaguars indeed acted urgently.

They already had signed cornerback Alan Ball as an unrestricted free agent, then two of the first three draft selections came in the secondary – safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz – and the team finished out the draft selecting safety Josh Evans in the sixth round and cornerbacks Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray in the seventh.

Cyprien and Gratz seem likely to start, with Evans having a chance to play a significant role as the third safety in the rotation. McCray also has impressed early, with Harris having a chance to contribute in the rotation.

"Everybody's in line, and working together," Trufant said. "That's going to speed up the learning curve."

Trufant said overall adjusting to Bradley's approach – and to the scheme – is a process, but he said one thing that's clear is the main building blocks in the secondary: Cyprien and Gratz.

They can play. Period.

"You can see why they're here," Trufant said. "Those guys are going to do well."

Specifically of Cyprien, Trufant was asked if a secondary needed a guy like him – aggressive, confident, and physical with speed to make plays at any level of the defense. He smiled.

"I think it's good to have a guy like 'Cyp' on any defense," he said with a laugh. "He's a guy who can run around. He can hit. He's fast. He's not going to be shy about what he's doing. He's going to be great on any defense. I'm just glad we've got him over here."

Cyprien called Gratz a "smooth, smart, strong" guy who has shown early the ability to start in the NFL.

"He's a player," Trufant said. "He's got a lot of confidence."

Trufant said the same is true for the entire secondary as for Gratz and Cyprien – that every day won't be perfect, and that in the process of getting better daily there will be stops and starts, highs and lows. That's particularly true in their first OTAs.

"We just work hard every day," he said. "That's the motto."

But overall, the veteran said there's no question in his mind that what he has seen in his first two weeks in his new surroundings is something sustainable and something that can help the entire defense.

"I love what I see from the secondary," he said. "It's a bunch of young guys who are energetic, hungry and who want to play football. It's a learning curve, but it all seems to be coming together."

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