When the Seattle Seahawks opened their second training camp under Pete Carroll on Thursday, former first-round draft choice Marcus Trufant found himself as the longest-tenured member of the team.
Suddenly, and somewhat shockingly, Marcus Trufant has become the elder statesman of the Seahawks.
When 69 players took to the practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday for a pair of walk-thru sessions to kick off the team’s second training camp under coach Pete Carroll, none had more than Trufant’s nine NFL seasons on his resume.
How can this be? It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Seahawks were making the cornerback from Washington State University and Tacoma’s Wilson High School the 11th pick in the NFL Draft in 2003. Or that Trufant became only the fourth cornerback in league history to lead his team in tackles in 2004. Or that Trufant was voted to the Pro Bowl after his seven-interception season in 2007.
But that reality is that the on-going youth movement under Carroll and general manager John Schneider has purged the roster of the baker’s half-dozen of teammates who could call Trufant “kid.”
A year ago, two players were in their 15th NFL season – strong safety Lawyer Milloy and kicker Olindo Mare. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was in his 12th season, and guard Ben Hamilton in his 10th. Three players were entering their ninth season – wide receiver Deion Branch, tight end Chris Baker and guard Chester Pitts.
But all are gone now.
The other vets with more than seven NFL seasons on the current roster are defensive tackle Colin Cole (nine seasons) and defensive end Chris Clemons (eight), but they’re in their third and second seasons with the Seahawks. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu has played his entire career with the Seahawks, but he’s “only” in his seventh season.
In fact, 33 of the players on the practice field Thursday were going through their initial workouts with the team.
This football generational gap is obvious in Trufant’s own unit, where he was joined by three second-year players in the starting secondary on Thursday: cornerback Walter Thurmond, who was opposite Trufant on the right-side spot where Kelly Jennings started last season; free safety Earl Thomas, who started all 16 games as a rookie; and strong safety Kam Chancellor, who has stepped in for Milloy.
“We’re the young veterans back there now,” Chancellor said.
Which makes Trufant, well, the older veteran back there. But if you’re going to approach Trufant about his senior status, do it tactfully.
“I guess so,” Trufant said. “I just don’t like to call myself that.
“It’s been a crazy offseason all around. The team looks a lot different. But it’s still the same type of work; it’s still the same type of attitude. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
When someone else approached the subject of his seniority, Trufant laughed and offered, “Shhh. Shhh. Shhh.”
He then added, “I’m always looking to get better, even though I am one of the older players.”
When it was suggested that Trufant is “seasoned” – not “older,” and definitely not “old” – he said, “Seasoned. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.”
Trufant, 30, realizes the roster turnover is the business side of the game he plays for a living.
“When you’ve been playing with guys for a number of years and then they’re not here, it’s tough,” he said. “But at the same time, it is a business and that can happen. So you’ve just got to keep rolling with it and you’ve got to take care of biz.”