Atypical Trufant puzzles Seahawks
ERIC D. WILLIAMS; The News Tribune
Houston – Will the real Marcus Trufant please stand up?
Considered the team’s top cover corner, the seven-year veteran and former Pro Bowl selection has a league-high eight defensive penalties against him this season in only seven games, including five for pass interference.
Trufant started the regular season on the physically unable to perform list with a disk issue in his back. Since his return, Trufant appears to lack the trademark burst and recovery speed that made him one of the better cornerbacks in the league.
Trufant had trouble Sunday keeping up Houston receiver Andre Johnson, who finished with a season-high 11 catches for 193 yards and two touchdowns. In the past seven games since he’s been back, Trufant has been caught in awkward positions on double moves and has resorted to grabbing and tugging to stay in position. Trufant did grab his second interception of the season.
Seahawks head coach Jim Mora has noticed.
“The years that I’ve known him, I don’t see him at 100 percent, top-end speed right now,” Mora said. “I don’t see that long speed that has made Tru such a good player.
“It’s got to be a residual. He hasn’t lost it. I mean it didn’t go away. He’s the same guy. He works the same way. So it’s got to be something that’s triggering that.”
For his part, Trufant isn’t using a potential nagging injury as an excuse for his poor play. But Trufant also is in the second year of a six-year, $50.2 million deal that pays him $8 million this season, so there’s pressure to be out on the field.
“I’m as healthy as I can be,” he said. “I’m out there, so I would say, yeah, I’m fully healthy and I’m out there trying to get it done. And certain plays I’m not making, but I’m still fighting to get better.”
Hawks get bounced around
Not only did the Texans overwhelm Seattle on the scoreboard, but they also administered a physical pounding to the Seahawks.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Aaron Curry and Matt Hasselbeck had to be helped off the field during the game.
Houshmandzadeh was dinged up after taking a bad spill while trying to jump for a high Hasselbeck pass over the middle, getting flipped by safety Dominique Barber.
At the end of the game, Curry was drilled in his hip by teammate David Hawthorne as he tried to make a tackle on Houston running back Arian Foster. Curry suffered a hip pointer and had to be taken off the field with a cart. But Curry said after the game that X-rays were negative and he should be OK.
“Hats off to Heater (Hawthorne) for just playing full speed, no matter what the situation was” Curry said. “I can’t knock anybody for doing that because I was doing the same.
Hasselbeck was leveled in the third quarter on a hit by blitzing Houston linebacker DeMeco Ryans, forcing Seneca Wallace to take over for the rest of the series. But Hasselbeck came back in on Seattle’s next offensive possession. Hasselbeck said he re-injured his right shoulder on the play but was fine.
Schaub faces former coach
Sunday’s game marked the first time that Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub faced his former coach, Jim Mora.
Mora was the Atlanta head coach when the Falcons drafted Schaub out of the University of Virginia in the third round (90th overall pick) in 2004 to be Michael Vick’s backup.
On Sunday, Schaub completed 29 of 39 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns against his former boss’ team.
“It was interesting,” Schaub said. “I spent three years with him. I knew what type of coach he is. I knew he’d try to come after us a little bit – (being) a defensive-minded coach. It was neat to see him after the game.”
It’s been quite a journey for Texans free safety Brian Russell, who was released from the Seahawks before the season and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 8.
Russell came to Houston’s Reliant Stadium with Jacksonville in September and left with a 31-24 victory. And he was with the Jaguars in Seattle when the Seahawks won, 41-0, earlier this season.
But he was released by the Jags on Nov. 21 and then joined the Texans four days later – just in time to play against the Seahawks.
This time, Russell got the win.
Free lancer Michael Sudhalter contributed to this report