Trufant To IR, Richard Sherman and Roy Lewis In Spotlight

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News broke today that Marcus Trufant was put on injured reserve, ending his season due to a back injury. Given Trufant’s age, injury history, and contract status, it is safe to assume he will not pull on a Seahawks uniform again. Trufant has been a very solid Seahawk, and deserves a feature looking back on his career, but this is not that post. Fans will hear a bunch about Walter Thurmond this week as he officially takes over for Trufant as the starter, but Thurmond is not the guy to watch.

Richard Sherman is 6’3″ and over 200 lbs. He is a rookie, and is not built to play inside as a nickel CB.  Thurmond will be on the outside in the base defense, but will almost certainly slide inside to cover the slot receiver in the nickel. That is what happened in the Giants game when Trufant was out. Teams are playing a significant amount of nickel, possibly even more than base, depending on the opponent. That means Sherman is going to out there a ton. Roy Lewis is eligible to come off the PUP, but he is much more of a pure slot CB. He excelled in that role last season. He is a better player, when healthy, than Sherman at this point of Sherman’s career, so it is conceivable that Thurmond could stay on the outside while Lewis takes over his nickel CB role. The competition is on.

Assume for the time being, Sherman will get most of the snaps as Lewis gets his football legs back. Those fans who have been frustrated by Brandon Browner’s propensity for penalties should brace themselves. I watched many Seahawks training camp practices and all the pre-season games. Sherman is far more prone to blatant physical contact after five yards, and is far worse at getting his head around on deep balls to avoid pass interference penalties than Browner. Sherman also can get lost in coverage more than Browner. Knowing when to hand a receiver off to a safety and when to close on receiver in front of you in zone coverage takes time. Browner is more seasoned, and does a better job of it.

Sherman is incredibly competitive, and relishes contact. Don’t be surprised if you see a few late hit penalties from an overzealous rookie. He is also very close with fellow Stanford rookie, Doug Baldwin. They both are smart and hard-working, so expect steady improvement as his playing time increases.

Sherman will get picked on more now, so there is likely to be at least one or two “Mike Wallace vs. Brandon Browner” games. Seeing 6’3″ and 6″4″ cornerbacks on opposing sides of the field is amazing. Opposing teams will continue to test these players deep, as Sherman was when Victor Cruz caught his lucky 68-yard TD in New York. Coly McCoy and Andy Dalton are the next two opponents, so the Seahawks catch a bit of break in terms of avoiding top-shelf quarterback competition while this revamped secondary takes shape.