Neiko Thorpe’s life got very interesting in an instant.
And he isn’t sure what came first on Tuesday — the phone call from the Seattle Seahawks, or the birth of his second daughter, Nora.
“It was close. … I got a little sleep — that is the good part,” he said at his new locker Wednesday inside team headquarters. “It was a big day right there — a day to remember.”
Welcome to the whirlwind life of a fringy NFL player.
After the Seahawks released 2015 fifth-round draft choice Tharold Simon on Tuesday, they signed another cornerback to their 53-man roster in Thorpe. They say they think the 6-foot-2, 198-pounder, who also has a 3-year-old daughter, can help in more areas than Simon did in his three injury- and penalty-filled seasons.
“We had a chance to pick up a guy we thought could help us more on special teams,” coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “We also (know) Neiko can play corner(back). We’ve gotten good looks at him.”
The 26-year-old Thorpe has grown accustomed to the move many in professional football know — the quick-pack-and-leave drill.
He was an undrafted free agent out of Auburn in 2012, signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. He bounced that year between the Chiefs practice squad and active roster.
The next year, he was in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts, starting that team’s final five games.
Thorpe had figured he found a home in Oakland with the Raiders the following season, in 2014. He played only 57 defensive snaps for the Raiders in his first season but was a key contributor on special teams, playing in 14 games.
Last season, Thorpe was Oakland’s No. 3 cornerback, playing in another 14 games (starting two of them), and totaling 457 snaps — the fifth-most snaps in the Oakland secondary. And he made his first career interception in the final seconds of the Raiders’ 37-33 victory over Baltimore.
The Raiders re-signed Thorpe to a second-round tender offer last April, which would have paid him nearly $2.6 million. But Thorpe was beaten out by Dexter McDonald for the final cornerback spot. Oakland released him among the final round of cuts in September.
“It’s the business side of it — things I cannot control,” Thorpe said. “It did (throw me off). This will be my fourth year, and stuff like that happens. I am learning it all myself.”
He signed with Indianapolis, but the Colts released him within a week. Thorpe returned to the Bay Area on Sept. 6 to get ready for the birth of his second child.
His agent, Audie Attar, let him know that the Seahawks were showing interest primarily for special teams. The deal got done on his unforgettable, life-changing Tuesday.
“Special teams opened the door for me to be in this league,” Thorpe said. “Anybody who asks me who I am, I tell them I am a (defensive back) who plays on special teams.”
TUKUAFU BACK, ON SCHEDULE
Fullback Will Tukuafu understood the whole deal surrounding his release two weeks ago.
Once his $760,000 salary was no longer guaranteed after Week 1, the 32-year-old knew there was a good chance he would be back with the Seahawks for Week 2 of the regular season.
Voilà! He practiced for the Seahawks on Wednesday, a day after he indeed was re-signed.
So what did he do last week — while the team opened the regular season against Miami?
“I spent time with my family,” said Tukuafu, who has three small children at the family home in Salt Lake City. “I took them to the swimming pool and let them splash around.
“You just go on with your life.”
Tukuafu, who is 280-plus pounds, has been a part-time tight end and defensive lineman in the last two seasons for Seattle.
One teammate who’s pumped that he’s back: Thomas Rawls.
The starting running back’s face lit up at the mention of his favorite fullback.
“Oh, my God!” Rawls said. “Big Will is back. I’m so excited, man. I just cannot stop thinking about him,
“Because when he gets in a game, he breaks like three of our face masks a game.”
QB HEAPS RETURNS FOR INSURANCE
More as a lifelong Seahawks fan — and less because he had been with the team through training camp — quarterback Jake Heaps was watching the season opener Sunday.
And the former Skyline High School star in Seattle’s eastern suburbs saw Russell Wilson get up limping after crashing to the turf with Miami defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh on top of his ankle.
Heaps said his mind began racing.
“First, you are hoping Russell is OK,” Heaps said. “And (secondly), if they need any help, that I’d be the first guy they’d call.”
The Seahawks did not wait long to reach out to Heaps, who was released in the final round of preseason cuts two weeks ago. He got an offer to sign onto the practice squad Monday morning. That makes him the third quarterback, the backup to Trevone Boykin if Wilson was to miss any time with his sprained ankle.
Wilson practiced Wednesday, and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said “we’re expecting him to be full go” for Sunday’s game at Los Angeles.
“There were different things I had been thinking over,” Heaps said. “When the Seahawks called, it made all the decisions clear for me. It was perfect timing.”
Rookie RG Germain Ifedi did not practice and seems likely to miss his second consecutive game with his sprained ankle. J’Marcus Webb is ready to start again for him. Line coach Tom Cable said Webb is “learning” and, like the rest of the offensive line, needs to improve. … Jimmy Graham was a full practice participant three days after getting 17 snaps in the opener. Carroll said the tight end will get more snaps against the Rams. … Rookie third-down RB C.J. Prosise practiced with a big cast over the cracked bone in his hand. Carroll expects him to play Sunday. ... Rookie TE Nick Vannett caught passes from Wilson and others at the start of practice but did not participate once full drills began. He’s been out for weeks with a high-ankle sprain.