Trufant officially graduates to NFL, Falcons

The SportsXchange

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Desmond Trufant completed his graduation work at the University of Washington and participated in OTAs on Tuesday.

Trufant, who's expected to land the starting right cornerback position, worked out with the first unit and made several plays on passes during the non-contact drills. He missed the first six sessions while he was completing his college work and final exams.

"It was nice to have Desmond," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "His work is done at the University of Washington. He'll be with us until we finish up in about two weeks with the rookies. It was nice to see him out here, getting caught up with everybody else."

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and secondary coach Tim Lewis were also elated to get Trufant for the team's last four OTA sessions.

Trufant and second-round pick Robert Alford received additional snaps because veteran cornerback Asante Samuel was excused from OTA session No. 7. Alford lined up at right cornerback and Dominique Franks played the nickel cornerback in the slot.

"I think it's really good for the young guys," Smith said. "These are guys that we are counting on to contribute this season and they are getting lots of reps. We knew (Samuel) wasn't going to be here, but that gives Robert and Desmond an opportunity to get more reps, which they really need."

Trufant has caught the eye of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

"He's an athletic kid, that's for sure," Ryan said. "He moves pretty well. That's probably the thing I noticed most during the one-on-ones."

--Tight end Levine Toilolo, the team's fourth-round pick, finished up his course work at Stanford on Tuesday and will be with the team on Wednesday, Smith said.

--Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and his staff were on hand to meet with the Falcons' defensive staff. They planned to exchange notes on the read-option offense.

The defense, which struggled at times against the attack last season, worked on defending the offense during the OTA.

--Tight end Adam Nissley, an undrafted free agent from South Forsyth High and Central Florida, suffered a torn ACL last week before being released by the Falcons. After clearing waivers, he was placed on reserve/injured.

Nissley, 6 feet 6 and 267 pounds, was recovering from a torn ACL in the opposite knee that he suffered last Aug. 9.

The Falcons signed tight end Anthony Miller to take Nissley's spot on the roster.

--Weak-side linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee surgery) and strong-side linebacker Stephen Nicholas (sports hernia) are slated to return for the team's mandatory minicamp, June 18 through 20. Smith originally thought they might be ready for the end of OTAs, which conclude Friday.
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