If amnesia is truly a cornerback’s best friend, then Marcus Trufant is the perfect man for the part.
Asked this week what he remembers about his Apple Cup matchups with former University of Washington wide receiver Reggie Williams, the Washington State University product shrugged.
“I remember losing,” Trufant said, referring to the Cougars’ 26-14 loss in 2001 and 29-26 defeat the following year. “That’s what it came down to. We were head-to-head every game, and he came out with the victory every time, so I don’t have anything to say about it.”
Just to refresh Trufant’s memory, the two matchups saw Williams catch a combined 23 passes for 372 yards – most of which came when UW’s young receiver and WSU’s best cornerback were locked up one-on-one.
But if Trufant has any kind of revenge on his mind this Sunday, when his Seattle Seahawks travel to Jacksonville to face Williams and the Jaguars, he isn’t letting on.
“It’s just like any other game,” Trufant said. “I’m going to come to play hard, and I know he’s going to come to play hard.”
Not one to gloat, Williams was also doing his best to play down the rivalry Thursday night.
“It’s a great matchup,” the Jaguars’ second-year wideout said. “He’s one of the better corners in the league, and it will be a challenge for me.”
This time, the matchup will be different. For starters, Trufant and Williams aren’t likely to go head-to-head on every play. Trufant is entrenched as Seattle’s right cornerback, while Williams will move around in various formations.
Then there is the not-so-minor detail of this being an NFL game. While Trufant has had a seemingly flawless transition from college to pro football – he has started all 32 of his NFL games and given up a moderate total of 11 touchdowns – Williams is still trying to find his way.
After Jacksonville selected Williams with the ninth overall pick in the 2004 draft, the ex-Husky had a quiet rookie season. He caught just 27 passes despite playing in all 16 games, including 15 starts. Williams, who turned 22 years old in May, generally looked lost in his new surroundings.
“It was necessarily hard (mentally), but I learned a lot,” Williams said. “I tried to soak up as much as I could.”
The new, and possibly improved, version of Williams will make his official debut Sunday against a familiar foe in Trufant. In addition to both being Tacoma natives, the duo will always be linked by their Apple Cup bond.
Around the league
New York Giants running back Tiki Barber said Thursday he signed a two-year contract extension with the team, a deal which goes through the 2008 season. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. … Minnesota Pro Bowl center Matt Birk is out for the season with another hip problem, and career backup Cory Withrow, a Mead High and Washington State University product, will replace him for the opener with Tampa Bay. … Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter will start the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opener against Tennessee despite sitting out all four preseason games and most of training camp following knee surgery. … The NFL conditionally reduced the suspension of Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Doss from two games to one game regarding a personal conduct policy violation. … A Miami judge has delayed the trial of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor on aggravated assault charges until Oct. 24.
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