LOS ANGELES—Jordan Simmons had walked through this same tunnel numerous times in his five years at USC, but standing outside of the locker room Sunday, he acknowledged that this particular day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a special one.
Because while Simmons spent five years at USC, where he arrived as a highly-rated recruit from nearby Inglewood, he didn't actually get on the field as a Trojan all that often due to a number of injuries. As a result of that limited playing time, Simmons went undrafted last year and spent his rookie season on Oakland's practice squad. But on Sunday, there Simmons was, in the same building where he played his college football and only a short drive from home, making his first career NFL start in the Seahawks' 36-31 loss to the Rams.
"It was (special)," Simmons said. "I didn't really get to play much in college due to injuries. So coming out here and starting meant a lot for me, because I've been through a lot with injuries and whatnot, so it's a blessing.
"I've been through a dark path in my college career, and to be here in the NFL, getting my first start, it's really a blessing. I kind of got emotional out there, but it felt good. During the game, just being out there playing, because like I said, I've been through a lot mentally trying to get to where I'm at today."
The Seahawks claimed Simmons when the Raiders waived him before the start of the season, but before this week he had served as a backup guard before a calf injury left him inactive for Seattle's past three games. But with starting right guard D.J. Fluker inactive on Sunday, the Seahawks turned to Simmons, whose first start came against a line featuring the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
"I thought it was an unbelievable job by Jordan Simmons today, he played the whole game—he never even played before—and stepping up and doing that was fantastic," Carroll said.
Asked why the Seahawks went with Simmons as opposed to other options, which included Ethan Pocic, who opened the season as the starter at left guard, Carroll said, "We wanted to make sure we had a big guy, a big solid guy who could hold up against their guys. We thought he would be the best fit for this matchup. Another game, another time, we might not go that way, but in this one we thought that's the way we would go that would be best for us."
And with another big guy in the lineup, the Seahawks piled up a team-high 273 rushing yards, a total Simmons greeted with an "oh wow" when told the final number.
"I felt like I did pretty well, my first game," he said. "My teammates boosted my confidence going into the game. I felt like I played pretty solid against them, I'll go back and watch the game and correct myself from there… But it felt good to get rushing yards against a front like that."
Simmons' play backed up what the Seahawks saw when evaluating him, which was a somewhat difficult process given his limited playing time at the college level.
"When John (Schneider) and the scouts figured it out to try to get him, we saw a really well-balanced body, a really big kid—he's 338 pounds," Carroll said. "He's really strong and athletic, he has all of the right stuff to be a good player, he just hasn't had the consistency and the background to show it, but we could see it enough to give him an opportunity, and everything he has done, he has done really well. He hasn't had much work with us either, but (offensive line coach Mike Solari) had a great feel for him and we gave him a shot, and he came through today."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 36-31 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season.