RENTON The Seahawks re-signed fullback Will Tukuafu -- for the third time in just over three months.
“Hey, what’s up, man?” Tukuafu said as he readied for practice on Wednesday. “(They called me) yesterday afternoon.”
Are they on his speed dial by now?
“All I know is, when they give me a call my bags are packed,” he said, “ready to roll.”
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To make room on the active roster the Seahawks released running back C.J. Spiller, the veteran they’d signed Sept. 28. Spiller, 29, caught a touchdown pass Oct. 2 at the New York Jets in his first game -- then did next to nothing after that behind Christine Michael. Spiller’s short-lived Seattle career ends with five catches, three carries and one inactive day over three games. When Michael was out for a carry in overtime last weekend at Arizona, Spiller stayed on the bench while rookie Alex Collins got the ball instead.
During that tie at the Cardinals, Tukuafu was back home -- again -- in Salt Lake City with his wife and three children.
Most days the 32-year-old dad got up at 4 a.m. to workout and stay in football shape. It wasn’t just that he was super-motivated to get up before dawn. He wanted to spend the bulk of each day with his two girls and one boy, ages 3, 2 and six months.
“My family they’ve always ... that’s the big reason we moved to Utah,” he said. “The majority of my family is there, my wife’s family. So that makes it easy when I have to take off for a week or so. My mom, my siblings, her siblings can help out. It’s awesome.”
He was Seattle’s blocking back for Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls the previous two seasons before the team let his contract expire in January. The Seahawks re-signed him Aug. 21. They cut him Sept. 3 among the final cuts from the preseason -- just so he wasn’t on the active roster for week one, which would have guaranteed his entire, $760,000 veteran contract. On cue Sept. 13, two days after their opening win over Miami, the Seahawks signed Tukuafu back to the active roster. He played seven snaps at fullback and four on special teams in the loss at Los Angeles Sept. 18. Three days later, the team released him again back to his family in Utah.
He said he’s yet to consider after any of those times being released that his seven-year career was over.
“You just keep trudging along,” he said. “It’s like anything in life. You get turned down from one job opportunity and you can’t be like, ‘Oh, man. That’s it.’ Gotta keep pushin’, man. That’s what I do.
“This is how it is. Especially as a guy who was coming in (to the NFL) as a tryout seven years ago. I understood that’s how the business goes. I don’t take offense. I’m just grateful for another opportunity to get to work.”
The Seahawks rank 27th in the NFL in rushing at just 82.7 yards per game. That’s 25 yards per game below the league average. Seattle’s missed Rawls, who’s been out since that Sept. 18 Rams game with a cracked fibula and is out until perhaps the Nov. 6 home game against Buffalo. The Seahawks have also been without their rugged, 285-pound blocking back the last two years.
Maybe this time they can keep him. He is, after all, a 285-pound blocking back for a needy running game. And he knows the team’s environment and system.
What does he think he may be able to do to fix the running game?
“Man, to be honest, I haven’t really been checking in. I just barely got internet and cable yesterday in my house,” he said.
“I’m not one of those glued to my TV, checking stats. I talked to the guys here, every now and then I get a text. But when I’m away I try to be fair to my family and wife and kids. Be the family man.