RENTON Thomas Rawls was smiling saying he was excited about getting back to starting status for Sunday’s game at Los Angeles.
But when I asked the Seahawks’ replacement for retired Marshawn Lynch as their featured running back about how happy he was to have Will Tukuafu back blocking for him at fullback, Rawls just about whooped and hollered and pounded his locker wall.
“Oh, my God!” Rawls exclaimed. “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 or four facemasks a game.”
The 285-pound Tukuafu was breaking facemasks or much else last weekend. He spent it at home in Salt Lake City with his family. The Seahawks cut him before the opener and brought him back after it to save some money.
Vested veterans such as Tukuafu who are on 53-man, active rosters for Week 1 get their entire base salaries guaranteed for that season, according to the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Seattle decided to avoid guaranteeing all of Tukuafu’s $760,000 for 2016 by thinking it could get by without a true fullback for last weekend’s opener against Miami.
That cost-saving move largely backfired. The Seahawks failed on third and short and fourth and inches. They had Rawls, a tailback, lined up at fullback in I formation in front of Christine Michael and running dive plays into the line trying to bull for first downs. It didn’t work. By the end of the 12-10 rally past big-underdog Miami in the final minute, the Seahawks were resorting to spread, shotgun formations on multiple third-and-1 plays.
Such is the result of not having a fullback. Seattle does now.
Tukuafu told my News Tribune colleague Todd Milles he knew the drill, why he got cut and why the Seahawks re-signed him for Week 2 and beyond.
He was swimming with his kids while his teammates played the Dolphins.
"I spent time with my family," said Tukuafu, who has three small children. "I took them to the swimming pool and let them splash around.
"You just go on with your life."
The 280-plus pound Tukuafu has also been a part-time tight end and defensive lineman the last two seasons for Seattle. Instead of Tukuafu at a pool and Seattle flailing on third and short, he’ll be ahead of Rawls, with Rawls at tailback as usual, in those situations beginning Sunday against the Rams.