Now healthy, Desmond Trufant joins the Bears determined to rebound from a disappointing injury-plagued 2020 season with the Lions.
The veteran cornerback was limited to six games due to a nagging hamstring injury that bothered him all year. He exited the season opener against the Bears after getting hurt and missed the next two games. Trufant reinjured his hamstring in his first game back and sat out the next three weeks. He returned again and played four contests before reaggravating it and missing the final five games of the season.
Trufant signed a one-year contract with the Bears last Saturday after registering 20 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups last year in Detroit.
"I'm hungry," Trufant said Thursday during an introductory Zoom call with reporters. "It was a down year for me. I was in and out of the lineup. I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I made some plays, but it wasn't good enough, wasn't up to my standard because I wasn't in the lineup. It was just one of those years. It's hard to explain."
Injuries generally weren't an issue for Trufant prior to last year; the 6-foot, 190-pounder started at least 15 games in five of his first seven NFL seasons with the Falcons from 2013-19.
Now healthy, he's concentrating on strengthening his hips, hamstrings and pelvis area through weight-training and conditioning this offseason to hopefully prevent injury and increase his durability.
"First things first: I'm trying to make sure I'm healthy and available to do what they brought me in to do," Trufant said. "That's No. 1. I know if I take care of that, everything else will take care of itself.
"I'm a professional. I've been doing this a long time. I know how to be successful in this league and what that looks like and feels like. I'm just focused on being healthy, bonding with my teammates, learning the playbook, and everything else is a natural instinct for me."
Trufant joins the Bears having started all 103 games he's played in eight NFL seasons. He's recorded 349 tackles, 14 interceptions, 83 pass breakups, 10 tackles-for-loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He was selected by the Falcons with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Washington.
Trufant is excited about joining a veteran defense that features impact players at all three levels.
"The Bears defense has always had great players," he said. "They always fire around, [are] aggressive, get to the ball, create turnovers, cause havoc. The front is always applying pressure and guys on the back end [are] making plays. I'm just excited for the opportunity to fit right in, to bring my energy to the field and play hard, take my respect from the city of Chicago."
Trufant told reporters that the Bears' free-agent pitch to him included the chance to team with perennial Pro Bowl outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
"Obviously, they love my game," Trufant said. "But they said, 'There ain't too many guys walking around like Khalil Mack. I know you want to play with him.' It was right; you don't get too many opportunities to play with a guy like him. He's a Hall of Fame-type of player … and I know he's going to continue to do what he does. That makes my life easier as a corner. You got guys up front that are getting pressure like that. I'm really excited for this opportunity. I'm going to take advantage of it, for sure."
Trufant has already spoken with first-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who was elevated into that role after eight seasons as a defensive assistant under head coaches Marc Trestman, John Fox and Matt Nagy. Desai replaces Chuck Pagano, who retired following the 2020 season.
"He likes my game, he likes how I play, he said I'll fit right in with the scheme," Trufant said of Desai, "how we play, how he wants the corners to be aggressive, tackle, make plays on the ball, just to be active, to be game-wreckers. And he said he wants to give me the opportunity to come in and compete. So I've got nothing to complain about. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to it and I can't wait for the opportunity to get to work."
With the Bears releasing veteran Kyle Fuller, Trufant no doubt will be called upon to help mentor young second-year cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor. And it's a role the 30-year-old will embrace.
"I'm here to do whatever is asked of me," Trufant said. "Obviously, I've got a lot of experience in this game, played against a lot of great players, had a lot of success in this league as well. So 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. I can't wait to get around the guys and show them how hard I work, show them how committed I am to this game and being a great player. I'll lead by example. I'm looking forward to it."
Take a look at new Bears defensive back Desmond Trufant in action. Trufant has 14 interceptions, three forced fumbles and 6.0 sacks in eight NFL seasons with Detroit and Atlanta.