The "competition is on" at the fullback position for the Seahawks, with the re-signing of veteran Will Tukuafu serving as "a message that we're still looking" to the younger players Seattle has tried at the position this summer, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
"We brought Will in a while back, worked him out with the thought that we'll see how it goes with the other guys in here," Carroll said after Sunday's "Bonus Day" practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. "Will has really brought an attitude to the position and an intensity that we really like, so we looked and we thought that nobody was matching up to him, so we'll bring him in and see how he looks and how he works."
Tukuafu, 32, originally signed with the Seahawks in 2014 after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Niners in San Francisco. He played in 23 games for the Seahawks the past two seasons, starting three games while also filling in at defensive tackle and playing a role on special teams. At 6-foot-2 and 280-plus pounds, Tukuafu provides the type of physical presence the Seahawks like in their run-first offense.
"He's a very versatile football player, a very unique football player," said Carroll. "We have our way of using him that makes him valuable that he can give you some snaps on defense when you need it, but he's a real hammer when you're blocking with the fullback position. So we're going to see how he does and if he can fit in and if he can help the team."
Added assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable: "I'm excited for Will and our team. He's a physical presence. He's done it, understands our system and our style of play. So we'll get him ready to go for when the time comes."
Seattle has used several players at the fullback position this preseason, some more so than others in a list that includes Brandin Bryant, Kyle Coleman, Brandon Cottom, Tre Madden, Tani Tupou, and Jonathan Amosa, who was waived to make room for Tukuafu. The search for a standout at the spot shows it's still an important position for the Seahawks.
"It still is," Carroll said. "It's still just to keep the diversity to the offense. That's an aspect of it that we've always really liked and it gives us an aggressive attitude. That's why Will kind of fits that makeup. He's 290-something pounds, so when he blocks as a fullback that's an unusual position that he fills.
"It is part of our attitude, it's part of our makeup. He's one of our guys. We think the world of him. So if it can work out, it would be a real asset to have him again."
Tukuafu, who said he was working through an ankle injury this offseason, noted he's been following the Seahawks "from a distance" since the 2015 campaign came to a close. Up until his re-signing, he had been spending time with his family while continuing to stay in shape for a run at a seventh NFL season. Tukuafu said he had interest from "a couple different teams," but following Sunday's workout along the shores of Lake Washington expressed that it feels "awesome" to be back in the Pacific Northwest.
"It feels great, being back with the coaches, the team, just the whole organization from the front office to the cafeteria people to everyone around here," Tukuafu said. "It's awesome. Great place. I couldn't be more happy to be in a great organization."
The Seahawks kicked off preparations for their third preseason game on Sunday at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.