RENTON, Wash. – Nothing will ever be completely normal for Shaquem Griffin as a football player.
He will always be known for being drafted and making the Seattle Seahawks roster despite not having a left hand.
But this training camp has felt different for the second-year linebacker. There’s been less hoopla. There haven’t been cameras following his every move. The focus has been on where he fits as a football player and ultimately proving he belongs on the roster for another season.
“I felt like I was able to be myself and focus on football instead of all the outside talk and everybody in your ear day after day. It was kind of good to get back to strictly football and strictly football itself,” Griffin said. “That’s all I wanted to do – period – was play football. When it comes to balancing everything I got used to that last year, but it felt good to solely focus on football and being around the guys all the time and not worry about commercials this, and signing that.”
Griffin will get his final chance to make an impression in the preseason Thursday night when the Seahawks face Oakland. Griffin has missed the past two preseason games after suffering a bruised knee in the preseason opener against Denver. He returned to practice Tuesday and is expected to play against the Raiders.
It’s important for Griffin to get on the field again to show what he brings to the Seahawks.
“I don’t feel like I’m behind,” Griffin said. “My whole thing was to work my butt off to get back and focus on learning from everyone in front of me. … It was more mental learning and putting myself in situations.”
Griffin’s rookie season was a whirlwind. Every move he made in training camp was documented, culminating with Griffin starting the season opener at Denver due to injuries. But he also had to contend with the fact that his size – 6-foot, 227 pounds – has made it difficult to find a permanent position on the field. Griffin’s biggest contributions came on special teams.
Coach Pete Carroll said it was evident Griffin and his cornerback brother Shaquill had more to deal with than anyone else a year ago.
“I think both the brothers really took it to heart. They know that they had gone through a tremendous amount last year, and it was a distraction for them and they had to live with it,” Carroll said. “It remains such a great story and it was so hot for so long. As well as they apply themselves, and tried to deal with it, it was more than anyone else had in that regard.”
Both brothers spoke of changes they made to their diets and workout plans in the offseason, and both believe there has been improvement.
Now comes the task of finding a spot on the field that best suits Shaquem.
The Seahawks talked in the offseason of using Griffin as a specialty pass rusher, but those plans have seemingly been thrown off by the knee injury. While it appears Griffin will be on Seattle’s final 53-man roster when cuts are made Saturday, it’s not a certainty. Seattle is certain to keep five linebackers – Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Austin Calitro and Cody Barton – and likely will keep six. Griffin is likely to be the sixth.
“The main thing for us is coaches want to see guys running fast and hitting,” Griffin said. “That’s what preseason is all about. You run a few plays and you shouldn’t mess up the few plays that you have. Do everything right, make hits, hit hard, run fast.”
NOTES: DE Ezekiel Ansah practiced for the first time in training camp Tuesday. Carroll said Ansah has his strength back in his surgically repaired shoulder and is over a groin injury suffered doing conditioning work. … WR David Moore has a non-displaced fracture in his upper arm. Moore was hurt in practice last week but Carroll doesn’t expect the recovery to be long. “It’s sore, but it’s not too uncomfortable,” Carroll said. … Backup C Joey Hunt suffered a high-ankle sprain in Saturday’s preseason game against the Chargers. … Carroll remained unsure whether G Mike Iupati (calf) would be ready in time for Week 1.
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