Goober Pyle

Falcons CBs: Isaiah Oliver finds his ‘groove,’ while Desmond Trufant practices ‘patience’

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Sorry guys, I missed this one. Must’ve had a better birthday than I thought. :D

 

https://theathletic.com/1072760/2019/07/11/falcons-cbs-isaiah-oliver-finds-his-groove-while-desmond-trufant-practices-patience/

 

The Falcons have placed a lot of faith in Isaiah Oliver.

Entering his second season with the franchise, head coach Dan Quinn is very much a believer that Oliver is ready to take on a starting role at cornerback. Working as a rotational backup a year ago, Oliver played behind Robert Alford, who was released early in the offseason. That move was the first signal the Falcons were looking at Oliver as a starter. The second came at the NFL’s annual league meetings in Phoenix when Quinn said it was time to place more trust in Oliver.

Oliver has taken this added responsibility to heart. During organized team activities, he worked at both left and right cornerback. He also got a lot of time at left cornerback during minicamp as Desmond Trufant was excused due to a personal matter.

Before Atlanta took Oliver in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the organization coveted his length, which includes an almost-7-foot wingspan. His long arms and quick hands are ideal to press receivers at the line of scrimmage. Atlanta’s corners are tasked with moving opposing pass-catchers off their routes, all while staying on top of the receiver. Oliver is grasping the technique much better entering his second season, and while his upper body is a strength, he said much of the focus has been on harnessing this technique with his feet.

“It’s something I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with,” Oliver said. “It’s something I can use to my advantage. I’m definitely looking to improve it, especially with the feet aspect of it. I have long arms and quick hands. I can always get my hands on guys, but the next step is being able to move my feet with it to be in good position all the time.”

Even as a second-year cornerback, the coaches have issued plenty of responsibilities, both on the field and in the locker room, to Oliver. Defensive backs coach Doug Mallory said he has watched Oliver progress nicely throughout the offseason.

“Isaiah has length. I think his length enables him to be a little bit more effective at the line of scrimmage,” Mallory said. “There are some areas he has to continue to work on down the field on a route. We’ve seen good improvement and good strides there.”

Trufant believes Oliver is poised to take a big step in his second season.

“Last year, things were new to him,” Trufant said. “He’s really smart; he picks up on things fast. He’s getting into his groove, so I’m excited to see him play this year.”

Trufant practices ‘patience’

It’s tough to truly gauge how a player is improving during an offseason. Practices aren’t full speed, and plenty of caution is in place to ensure serious injuries don’t occur. But one player the coaches have been pleased with since the beginning of the offseason is Trufant.

Trufant was part of a secondary that allowed an average of 259.6 passing yards per game last season, which obviously will need to improve in 2019. One area Trufant has focused on this offseason is being patient at the line of scrimmage. While Oliver has the length to reroute receivers, Trufant uses his speed and agility to jump on top of the routes after his initial jam.

Mallory said Trufant could benefit by staying aggressive with his press technique.

“Patience is the biggest thing he’s been working on,” Mallory said. “At times, a receiver would stem, maybe in one direction, and he was quick to open and get out and run instead of just staying down and challenging. That’s been his emphasis. We’ve seen a lot of great improvement this spring. We’ve been encouraged about that. He’s always been a great competitor, competing at the end of the route.

“He’s got great change-of-direction skills. He’s got great long speed. It was just the emphasis on the line of scrimmage — trying to be a little bit more disruptive, trying to get the receiver off the line and affect the timing and the spacing of the route.”

During the duration of his rookie contract, Trufant emerged as Atlanta’s top cornerback, which, during the 2017 offseason, earned him an extension worth $68.75 million for five years.

“The thing with Tru is he has outstanding speed,” Mallory said. “There are not many people who are going to be able to run away from him. He has great change-of-direction skills. We just feel he can be a great press corner in this league if he can clean up some work at the line of scrimmage. That would help him become an elite cover corner in this league.”

Speedy Sheffield

Atlanta’s secondary appears set entering the 2019 season. Trufant and Oliver are the outside corners. Damontae Kazee has moved from safety to nickel. Assuming everything remains on track, Keanu Neal (ACL) and Ricardo Allen (Achilles) are poised to take back their starting positions as safeties.

One player who is hoping to be a factor as a key depth contributor is rookie Kendall Sheffield, who spent a good chunk of his offseason learning the nickel position. At Ohio State, Sheffield primarily played outside. He also said he was in press coverage an estimated 90 percent of the time.

Playing nickel is a bit different than being on the outside, obviously. Generally, there is more space for a receiver to run from the slot. The nickelback is often asked to play off coverage more than press.

“I’ve been learning a lot, playing a new position,” Sheffield said. “Just trying to get better and better each day and do what they’re asking of me and go 100 percent each day.”

Sheffield’s two best attributes are his speed and his ability to change direction. In college, Sheffield said the best 40-yard dash time he recorded was at 4.26 seconds. Also a track-and-field star in college, Sheffield broke Ohio State’s 60-meter indoor record with a time of 6.665 seconds.

Genetics might have played a role in Sheffield’s speed, considering his mother was a high school track star and his father ran the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at Sam Houston State. Sheffield realized as young as 7 years old that he possessed blazing speed. Whether he projects to corner or nickel in the future, Sheffield will look to use this speed to his advantage.

He also has a mentor in Kazee, who is guiding him while he continues to learn the nickel position.

While Kazee hasn’t spent much game action playing nickel, he cross-trained there previously. Therefore, he has a good understanding of the position’s responsibilities. Sheffield has been all ears to anything Kazee has to say.

“I’ve been an open book,” Sheffield said. “I’m listening to everything he knows and am trying things myself. It’s been a great experience.”

 

 

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I’d like to see Oliver develop that “dawg” mentality. He has a lot of desirable physical traits. But can he put it al together. Has to be tough because he’s under pressure to deliver now. I’m going to be watching his development with great interest. 

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Thanks for posting.  I’ve heard quite a bit about Sheffield since voluntary OTA’s, but next to nothing on Miller.  I love his upside on the outside

 Is he hurt or something?

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44 minutes ago, VTCrunkler said:

I’d like to see Oliver develop that “dawg” mentality. He has a lot of desirable physical traits. But can he put it al together. Has to be tough because he’s under pressure to deliver now. I’m going to be watching his development with great interest. 

Agree. You can never quite trust the glowing reports from coaches in off-season, but he has been given the job and you can only hope he is ready to handle it against NFL WR's.

Also, now that you mention it, I'd also really like to see Trufant develop that "dawg" mentality.

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45 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

Agree. You can never quite trust the glowing reports from coaches in off-season, but he has been given the job and you can only hope he is ready to handle it against NFL WR's.

Also, now that you mention it, I'd also really like to see Trufant develop that "dawg" mentality.

Trial by fire. All we can do is trust the coaches reports for now. Until camp comes.  Shortly thank goodness. 

PokerSteve and RING OF HONOR like this

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1 hour ago, FalconsIn2020 said:

Thanks for posting.  I’ve heard quite a bit about Sheffield since voluntary OTA’s, but next to nothing on Miller.  I love his upside on the outside

 Is he hurt or something?

IMO, Miller is a year 1 stash on STs unit at this point and he could create a roster spot to replace Wilson in 2020 as the primary boundary backup; possibly letting Oliver slide to LCB if necessary.

A lot will depend on Sheffield’s development and future use as well, but I think he mainly ensures depth outside and let’s Wilson be a roster casualty next year at minimum; generating some savings.

Tim Mazetti and FalconsIn2020 like this

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3 hours ago, PokerSteve said:

Agree. You can never quite trust the glowing reports from coaches in off-season, but he has been given the job and you can only hope he is ready to handle it against NFL WR's.

Also, now that you mention it, I'd also really like to see Trufant develop that "dawg" mentality.

why does my mind immediately go to the nightmares of Mike Person at C when I see "well, the coaches trust him enough to give him the job"

 

:yikes:

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6 hours ago, falcons007 said:

Trufant needs to stop dropping those interceptions. He can easily get 5-7 interceptions a year.

 

5 hours ago, TheFatboi said:

Yep. Every year too. 

This would more than erase the few times he gets beat a year or makes a big mistake; which people become all hung up on.

5 INTs a year was would erase that perception real quick.

falcons007 likes this

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On 7/14/2019 at 9:52 AM, Goober Pyle said:

“Patience is the biggest thing he’s been working on,” Mallory said. “At times, a receiver would stem, maybe in one direction, and he was quick to open and get out and run instead of just staying down and challenging. That’s been his emphasis. We’ve seen a lot of great improvement this spring. We’ve been encouraged about that. He’s always been a great competitor, competing at the end of the route.

Man was this something that made me cringe. He wasn't willing to fight at the LOS. It killed me and it killed him too. One that stands out clear as day for me was versus Cincy. Late game, Tru in the slot, manned up on Tyler Boyd. He doesn't get a single hand on him, Boyd jabs outside, Tru spins (losing Boyd) and then gets back on top just for Boyd to stop on a dime. Tru was beat due to lazy technique at the LOS more than anything. He's got to clean up the finer details. Has to.

Goober Pyle likes this

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