Jets’ Isaiah Trufant had to earn respect

Isaiah Trufant celebrates his game-tying, punt-block return touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Talk about earning some job security.

Isaiah Trufant’s 18-yard touchdown to tie the game against Dallas in the fourth quarter might just be his ticket to sticking around on the Jets’ 53-man roster.

Trufant went from practice squad to hero in less than 48 hours.

Life on an NFL practice squad can be tough, with frequent cuts and movement up and down. There are plenty of examples of practice squad players making a career in the league, such as former Jets running back Danny Woodhead. But there is always a chance that today might be your last day on the practice squad and tomorrow, you’re adding to the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment numbers.

On Friday afternoon, Trufant, who was waived by the Eagles in August, was a member of the Jets’ practice squad. The cornerback was promoted to the full team for Sunday night’s game. Not much was expected of Trufant, in fact, most Jets fans had never heard of him until Joe McKnight burst through the line to block Mat McBriar’s punt.

“It was a great call, great block by Joe McKnight and I was hoping to not bobble the ball. I got a good bounce on it and was trying to run it in,” Trufant said. “Your eyes light up and you pick up the ball and run. I saw daylight and fans cheering.”

Undrafted out of Eastern Washington, Trufant has made stops in unheralded places. He played in the Arena Football League for the Spokane Shock, the Kansas City Brigade and the Arizona Rattlers and then the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League. Crowds were tiny and the life wasn’t glamorous.

But Trufant said he never gave up on the dream. Not surprisingly, for a player who has only ever tasted the bitterness of being cut in the NFL, Trufant was expecting something bad to happen.

“I had that ball and I just started running, really just running as hard as I could,” Trufant said. “But I heard footsteps behind me and I didn’t know who they were. I thought maybe they were Cowboys coming after me, but it was our guys, running in with me.”

Trufant’s hope now is that this play leads to other things. Being cut by the Eagles last month was a tough blow, but now in his second tenure with the Jets — Trufant was cut by the Jets this past January after less than a month with the team — he hopes to have found a home.

If history is any indicator, Trufant won’t give up his roster spot easy.

“For me, it’s always a fight, always a chance everyday to prove myself and to work hard,” Trufant said. “To keep doing the things that I’m doing and trying to make an impact on the field, any way that I can.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for breaking news and live updates from Jets practice.


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