Trufant and Hamlin could be Seattle's secondary of the future

Updated: August 1, 2003, 2:28 AM ET

CHENEY, Wash. -- Rookie safety Ken Hamlin smiled when he considered the possibility of a lengthy NFL career with his roommate during training camp, cornerback Marcus Trufant.

"It would be great," Hamlin said. "Both of us are having a good time. We're just playing hard and learning the defense. We're getting after each other. We're both trying to get better every day."

The Seahawks are counting on it. After ranking 28th in the NFL in total defense last season, the team made it a priority to improve the defense over the offseason.

Veterans like linebacker Randall Godfrey and lineman Norman Hand were added to make an impact next season, but the Seahawks also considered long-term needs by taking Trufant in the first round and Hamlin in the second.

That's not to say the two talented rookies won't contribute immediately. First, though, they understand they'll have to go through the paces, trying to learn as much as they can about their new jobs.

"A lot's coming at me," said Trufant, the 11th overall pick in the draft. "I'm a rookie, so everything's different from college. I'm just studying my playbook, trying to learn everything. I'm going slowly."

Both bring outstanding credentials.

Trufant, born and raised in Tacoma, was a starter at Washington State since early in his freshman season. He was never beaten for a touchdown reception during his junior and senior seasons.

Hamlin was drafted in the second round from Arkansas, where he was billed as the school's best defender since Steve Atwater (1985-88). Hamlin was the first player in Arkansas history with 100 tackles in three straight seasons.

These guys are good, all right.

"We know they're going to play," secondary coach Teryl Austin said. "How much and where they play hasn't been determined. In my opinion, they're going to push for lots of playing time and possibly become starters."

Trufant and Hamlin have been working out on special teams, where they're likely to spend plenty of time as rookies. But they've also made strong impressions at their defensive positions, though the jobs have some challenges.

"It's a transition coming to a new level," Hamlin said. "You have a lot of different things. The terminology is different in the NFL. That's been the hardest thing to pick up in learning the defense."

Trufant plays the same position as standout Shawn Springs, and the Seahawks also have veterans Willie Williams, Ken Lucas and Doug Evans at corner. Hamlin hopes to start at free or strong safety, competing against veterans Reggie Tongue and Damien Robinson.

"It's going to be a real battle in the secondary," coach Mike Holmgren said. "There are going to be some tough cuts at the end."

Austin stressed that jobs haven't been determined, but the extra depth has sharpened the competition in camp. Even if Trufant and Hamlin don't start, both are sure to contribute when opposing offenses face passing downs.

"We're looking at what Marcus might be able to do in nickel situations," Austin said. "Ken gives you a safety who can cover people. It gives us some flexibility in those packages. Hopefully, they can match up with other people."

Trufant and Hamlin say they've gotten along well since being introduced shortly after the draft. They shared a room during minicamps, and they're back together in the dorms at Eastern Washington University.

"We spend a lot of time together," Trufant said. "We're rookies together. We've got a lot in common."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index