The last time Marcel Reece played for a Seattle team, he was a wide receiver for Tyrone Willingham’s Washington Huskies.
A decade later, after no NFL team drafted him, he’s with Pete Carroll’s Seahawks — as a four-time Pro Bowl fullback.
How did that happen?
“Honestly, I showed up to training camp,” Reece said Wednesday of his rookie season with the Oakland Raiders in 2008, “and Al Davis said I was his new fullback. That’s how it went.”
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The late Raiders owner was notorious for his hands-on, sometimes one-way approach to his players, and for his acumen for talent acquisition and allocation.
Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable was the Raiders’ line coach when Davis switched Reece to fullback on that summer day eight years ago in Napa, California.
Asked Wednesday whether he knew the owner was making Reece the Raiders’ new fullback, Cable smiled knowingly.
“Yeah,” Cable said, “if we didn’t before, we knew it after.”
Davis never got to see Reece become a Pro Bowl fullback. Davis passed away in October 2011. Reece’s first Pro Bowl selection came a year later.
How much did Reece appreciate Davis? After the owner’s death, Reece wore a black T-shirt with “AL” printed inside a silver Raiders shield under his shoulder pads during games.
He was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl last winter, then got suspended for the final game of the 2015 season and the first three games of this season for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. He reportedly said a legal “natural plant root extract by the name of Umcka” he took converted into the banned substance “methylhexanamine.”
The day after his suspension ended, in September, the Raiders released him. He’d been working out in the Bay Area from then until last week when the Seahawks called him for a tryout.
Cable said Reece the Raider had the perfect response for a coach when Davis told him he was changing positions: “Whatever you want me to do.”
“You cherish those guys at this level,” Cable said. “They are not worried about what they think they’ve always been. They just want to be a part of this.”
Reece had the same mentality Wednesday when asked what role he expects with the Seahawks.
“I told them I’m here for whatever they want, whatever they need,” Reece said.
That need is fullback.
Starter Will Tukuafu is in the league’s concussion protocol. He missed practice Wednesday. The Seahawks must proceed on the assumption he won’t play Sunday at Green Bay.
Running backs coach Sherman Smith confirmed Reece, Seattle’s new No. 44, is ready for how the Seahawks uses their fullback. That’s usually a dozen or so snaps a game as a lead blocker.
With Reece’s skills, he could be a fill-in for injured C.J. Prosise as a pass-catching third-down back, too.
“He’s got great athleticism. I remember (coaching) against him when he was at Oakland, and I was amazed at his ability to run routes and running the football,” Smith said. “For us to be able to get him, boy, we are excited to have him.
“He’ll be game-ready enough to play (against the Packers), for what we want him to get out there and do. We are not going to try to get him out there and play 50, 60 plays. I think he’s in good enough shape to compete.”
AVRIL NOMINEE FOR MAN OF THE YEAR
Defensive end Cliff Avril is the Seahawks’ 2016 nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Each team nominates a player each season who has contributed off the field as much or more than on.
Avril has 10 sacks through 12 games, tied for third-most in the league. That means he is building at least 10 new houses in Haiti, where he visited his grandmother as a child. Avril has pledged to build a new home on the impoverished island recently battered by a hurricane and an earthquake for each sack he gets this season. He estimates the cost of each home to be about $7,000.
Starting strongside LB Mike Morgan missed practice because of a hip injury. He had the first interception of his career last weekend in the win over Carolina. … TE Jimmy Graham and DT Ahtyba Rubin got routine veteran rest. … WR Paul Richardson (hamstring), LB Brock Coyle (foot) and TE Brandon Williams (knee) were limited in practice. Carroll said Richardson “should be fine for the game” in Green Bay and Coyle “has a really good chance to get back” this weekend.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle