Marshawn Lynch may soon have a huge new plow horse in front of him in the Seattle Seahawks’ backfield.
How huge? About 285 pounds of fullback.
That’s how much newly signed Will Tukuafu says he weighs.
“And I actually lost weight. I’ve lost 10 pounds,” the former 49ers defensive end said in front of his new Seahawks locker at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center before practice Wednesday afternoon.
Seattle signed Tukuafu, whom it first signed in 2010 as an undrafted free agent, and promoted linebacker L.J. Fort from its practice squad to fill the open roster spots created by Tuesday’s releases of wide receiver Phil Bates and tight end Brett Brackett.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after Tukuafu’s first practice with the Seahawks (4-3) that it’s conceivable he could play Sunday against Oakland (0-7) at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle has been using tailback Robert Turbin as a fullback, usually in split-back sets, for the past two games with starting fullback Derrick Coleman on injured reserve and out for the year. Coleman broke his foot during pregame warmups Oct. 19 at St. Louis.
The sooner Tukuafu can master the playbook, the more Seattle’s offense can truly return to the power running of Lynch upon which it had been based for most of the previous three seasons.
As linebacker K.J. Wright said: “We can get in a regular I formation and run the ball, instead of the (read) option.”
Tukuafu hasn’t played since he sustained a concussion Aug. 24 in a San Francisco exhibition game. Yet don’t be surprised if Bevell has at least a short-yardage package of plays for Tukuafu to be the lead blocker for Lynch this weekend.
The 49ers put the 30-year-old former Oregon Duck on injured reserve on Aug. 30. They gave Tukuafu an injury settlement on Sept. 8, making him a free agent.
He’s been home in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife Krystal, their 20-month-old daughter Naiya and month-old son Kingston, working out and waiting for a call.
Told he looked wide awake for a father of two babies, he smiled and said, “My wife’s a champ. My hat’s off to her. I can say my job is easy compared to hers.”
That call he’d been waiting for came from the Seahawks last week, inviting him for a tryout, and then again this week just after he got out of the gym, inviting him to join the team.
“Can you be on a plane in an hour and a half?” the Seahawks asked him on the phone.
“My bag was packed,” Tukuafu said.
BROCK COYLE READYING TO START AT MLB
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner will miss his third consecutive game this weekend and doesn’t appear to be returning from his turf toe injury any time soon. He was in a walking boot last week and a cast before that.
K.J. Wright has been starting in the middle the last two games for him. But after Wednesday’s practice linebackers coach Ken Norton said the team expects undrafted rookie Brock Coyle to be the starting middle linebacker against the Raiders.
The Seahawks were wowed by how well Coyle ran the first-team defense through most of training camp and the first two exhibition games in August while Wagner was out with a hamstring injury. Plus, it’s looking more like outside linebacker Malcolm Smith may not play against the Raiders because of a groin injury he got last weekend during the win at Carolina. That is forcing Wright back outside.
So it’s apparently going to be guy who was captain of the Montana Grizzlies just a few months ago running the middle of the Super Bowl champions’ defense against Oakland. Coyle has been on just about every special teams unit but not involved in the defense’s game plans — until now.
“It’s his position to lose. He’s in there right now,” Norton said. “He could mess it up by a bad week and change our mind. But right now, I think Brock — we were pleasantly surprised in the summer with his performance throughout the camp, throughout the preseason. He stepped in when Bobby was out then. He’s going to do the same thing now.
“We know exactly what we are getting. And we are very pleased with what we have. … He’s a guy we have a lot of faith in.”
Cleveland signed L.J. Fort as an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of Northern Iowa. Seattle signed him to its practice squad last week, potentially as a fullback. He was living in Denver, the most recent NFL team to release him, and was two hours into a long drive to Missouri to see his 7-year-old daughter there when the Seahawks called. He U-turned immediately from east to west to join the Seahawks. A little over a week later, he’s on the active roster of the defending Super Bowl champions.
“It’s awesome. It’s been two years since I’ve been on an active roster,” Fort said. “It’s an amazing feeling, and I am extremely grateful.”
KPL IS A-OK
Norton said how impressed he and the team were with rookie outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis’ speed in blitzing and covering much of the field last weekend at Carolina.
It would make sense the fourth-round draft choice from Boston College, who got slowed in the preseason by a hamstring injury, will get many more snaps this weekend on passing downs — perhaps as the second of two linebackers along with Wright in nickel, five defensive-back packages. Seattle has been in those for the majority of snaps this season. And no team has run the ball less effectively than Oakland this season. The Raiders’ 133 rushes and 69.6 yards per game on the ground are both the lowest in the NFL.
C Max Unger practiced for the first time since he sprained his foot in the Oct. 6 win at Washington. He was limited, yet it was a sign the two-time Pro Bowl selection will play for the first time in four games this weekend. … Starting CB Byron Maxwell did not practice, as the calf strain that forced him to miss the last two games continues to keep him out. But coach Pete Carroll said there remains a chance Maxwell plays Sunday. … James Carpenter was limited in practice today, but before practice Carroll said he had spoken to his starting LG and he seems good to play on Sunday. … Lynch got his usual Wednesday rest. … PR/KR Bryan Walters returned to practice after missing last weekend’s Carolina game with a concussion. Carroll was asked whether rookie WR Paul Richardson ’s 47-yard kickoff return that set up Seattle’s only points of the first half against the Panthers means Richardson, not Walters, will return kickoffs again this weekend. Carroll was vague and noncommittal in his answer. Expect Walters to be back returning punts against the Raiders because of how much Carroll trusts him, and how much the coach values just holding onto the ball in those situations over a long run back. But Carroll seems intrigued if not excited over Richardson’s blazing speed on kickoffs, where the returner has less to deal with than a punt returner as far as split-second decisions and catching the ball in traffic. Thus Richardson may be back on kickoffs again versus Oakland.