Jun 18, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) runs through a drill during Minicamp at the Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
FLOWERY BRANCH -- The NFL season doesn't start for another three months, but the Atlanta Falcons' two rookie cornerbacks should be well-tested before the first game.
Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have the daunting task of trying to cover the Falcons' Pro Bowl receivers, Roddy White and Julio Jones, every day in practice.
"They are going to be getting their training under fire because they are going to be playing against a group of wide receivers I think is as good as any when you start talking about Julio Jones and Roddy White," Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
Trufant was the Falcons' first selection at No. 22 in the draft out of Washington. His older brothers Marcus (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Isaiah (New York Jets) also play in the NFL. Alford was the Falcons' second selection at No. 60 in the second round out of Southeastern Louisiana.
"When you draft the guys we drafted early, we anticipate that they are going to play," Smith said. "We believe they have the skill set to be successful at the corner position. We're going to give them every opportunity to play."
That chance to prove themselves comes every day in practice against two of the league's premier receivers in White and Jones.
"They try, but you've got two Pro Bowlers out there in me and Roddy," Jones said. "Harry (Douglas) is a great player and Drew Davis, everybody can go out and make plays. We've been in the offense so long and having a great quarterback like Matt Ryan, it's hard for those guys to just come in."
White had 1,351 yards receiving last year, while Jones was right behind him with 1,198 yards. They were the only duo from the same team in the top 15 in receiving yards last season.
"Going against those guys every day, I found out very quickly those two young men are very competitive," Smith said. "When you have that competitive drive, it bodes well for success in the NFL."
When pressed about how Trufant and Alford have faired against Jones and White, it was obvious they still have some learning to do this offseason.
"One thing I can say about them, they don't give up," Jones said. "They give effort. They have heart. That's one thing you can't teach."
In his second year with the Falcons, Jones had a breakout season. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and helped Atlanta reach the NFC Championship game. But another 1,000-yard receiving season or a Pro Bowl selection are far from his mind this year.
"Last year is last year. This is a whole another year," Jones said. "Nobody is going to give us anything. You have to work for everything you earn, especially in the NFL. It's on you if you want to make the decision to get back there or farther than that."