‘Healthy now,’ CB Desmond Trufant ready to replace Kyle Fuller

Bears fans may forever see new cornerback Desmond Trufant as the man who replaced Kyle Fuller after his surprising release last week. Trufant, though, isn’t intimidated by the situation.

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The Bears signed cornerback Desmond Trufant to a one-year deal.

Brian Westerholt, AP Photos

Bears fans may forever see new cornerback Desmond Trufant as the man who replaced Kyle Fuller after his surprising release last week. Trufant, though, isn’t intimidated by the circumstances.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for [Fuller],” Trufant, who signed a one-year deal Saturday, said on a Zoom call Thursday. “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.”

The 30-year-old former Pro Bowl player knows the scouting report on Fuller, though, and said he plays similarly.

“He’s very patient in his ‘off’ coverage,” said Trufant, a former first-round pick from Washington. “He can press. He tackles. He’s well-rounded. And I feel like I’m a similar player as well. I use my feet to get to the spot quicker than receivers. I’m very instinctive. I’m competitive, I’m aggressive. So you know I feel like I fit right in to this scheme.

“That’s one of the reasons why I came here ... I like how they let corners play and let them take their shots. So, like I said, I’m looking forward to making my plays.”

The Bears, who prioritize physicality in the defensive backfield, made a simple sales pitch to Trufant.

“Obviously, they love my game,” he said. “But you know, they said, ‘There ain’t too many guys walking around like [outside linebacker] Khalil Mack. I know you want to play with him.’ … 

“That makes my life easier as a corner.”

A strong pass rush — from Mack and others — would help offset the loss of Fuller just as much as strong cornerback play would.

The Bears hope a healthy Trufant can turn back the clock to 2015, when he made the Pro Bowl, and use his experience to mentor second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who is slated to start opposite him. The Bears have two other young cornerbacks — third-year player Duke Shelley and second-year Kindle Vildor — contending to start in the slot.

“Anything that they need as far as technique, anything off the field, the longevity of the game — just anything — I’m a resource for them,” Trufant said.

Because he’s on a one-year deal, Trufant’s presence won’t preclude the Bears from pursuing extra cornerback help, either later in free agency or next month’s draft.

Trufant spent the first seven years of his career in Atlanta. After missing only eight games over the first six seasons, he missed seven due to injury in 2019 and was released. 

The Lions signed him to a two-year, $20 million contract a year ago. Trufant hurt his hamstring in the season opener, missed two weeks, returned for one and sat another five. He landed on injured reserve in early December, ending his season after only six appearances. The Lions cut him earlier this month.

“I’m doing different things with my recovery,” he 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.”

For the first time in his NFL career, Trufant will play his home games on natural grass. That will help his legs.

“I know how to be successful in this league, and what that looks like and feels like,” he said. “I’m just focused on being healthy, bonding with my teammates, learning the playbook. And everything else is a natural instinct for me.”

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