Walking off the practice field earlier in training camp, it was relayed to D.J. Fluker that his position coach, Mike Solari, had just described him as playing the game with “pure-ass attitude.”
The Seahawks’ new guard laughed as he walked into the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, his deep voice booming, “Pure-ass attitude! Yeah, I like that!”
Of all the things Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider set out to accomplish this offseason, one of the most important was getting the team’s running game back on track following back-to-back subpar seasons in that phase of the game. Selecting running back Rashaad Penny and tight end Will Dissly with two of their first three draft picks certainly spoke to the seriousness of that goal, but so too did the signing of Fluker, a former first-round pick known first and foremost as a big, mauler of a guard who can be difference maker in the running game.
Fluker wasn’t able to do much in offseason workouts due to a knee injury, but in camp he has been on the field every day and a steady presence at right guard with the No. 1 offense.
“I’ve been really impressed with D.J. Fluker,” Carroll said. “He’s really been kind of what we had hoped he would be. He’s such a big man. He’s a giant of a guy. He’s 355 (pounds) or something and you can’t move him. He can hold the point on pass protection, which is really nice, and he’s been very aggressive coming off the ball. I’ve said this—he worked with Mike (Solari) last year at the Giants so he has the carryover of the system and all that. He’s been really impressive this time around. The whole first group has done a nice job so far.”
As Carroll noted, Fluker spent last season playing for Solari with the New York Giants, making for an easier transition to a new team this offseason.
“It helped a lot, a whole lot,” Fluker said. “I know what he expects from us, expects from me. It’s about attitude, playing hard to the whistle and pancaking guys; that’s the goal here.”
As for that pure-ass attitude comment, Fluker said, “I live that, that’s who I am. I like finishing guys off. Fourth quarter, you’re tired? I’m not tired.”
It was, in fact, the Seahawks’ stated goal to get back to running the ball that played a big role in Fluker’s decision to sign with Seattle.
“Being able to have that mindset, that’s key,” he said. “Getting guys who have that same mindset too. As an offensive line, that’s our goal to be physical, we want to be able to run the ball. Not a whole lot of teams run the ball—there’s a few teams, but there ain’t very many of them. If we keep that mentality of being able to run the ball, we take the pressure off (Russell Wilson).
“It’s really about running the ball. I think that’s the thing that was missing. The leading rusher last year was Russell, I believe. Shoot, if we can take pressure off that guy, he’s amazing.”
Center Justin Britt joked that playing between the 6-foot-5, 342-pound Fluker and Ethan Pocic, who is 6-6, 320, makes his job easier because he has “those two bumpers on each side.” But it’s not just size that makes Fluker an asset to the Seahawks, it’s that attitude that is so closely aligned with what the Seahawks want to accomplish in 2018.
“Just getting back to who we are,” Britt said when asked what he wants to see from the offense. “Not trying to be pretty, not trying to be cute. Just being physical, nasty, and dominant.”
Take a look back at photos of D.J. Fluker's first five NFL seasons as the offensive lineman signs a free-agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks.