Seahawks lineman Jordan Simmons got the fairytale beginning to his NFL career when he started his first pro game on the same field he'd played on in a college career at USC that was marred by injury.
LOS ANGELES — On another day, against another opponent, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the team might have made a different decision on who to start at right guard in place of the injured D.J. Fluker.
But against a Los Angeles Rams defense featuring the terrorizing inside tandem of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, “We wanted to make sure we had a big guy in there, a solid guy who could hold up against their guys,” Carroll said.
And for Jordan Simmons — who turned out to be that “big guy’’ that Seattle turned to — it could hardly have been a more storybook way to get his first NFL start, not to mention his first offensive snap of any kind.
Simmons grew up in nearby Inglewood, Calif. and played at USC, often on the same field the Seahawks and Rams dueled on at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. But his Trojans career was heaped with frustration — injuries cost Simmons 24 games and he was switched briefly to defensive line. He also was denied a chance at a sixth year of NCAA eligibility in 2017, forced to turn pro before he wanted.
“Kind of got a little emotional out there, but it felt good,’’ said Simmons. “During the game, just being out there and just playing. Like I said, I’ve been through a lot mentally.’’
And that gratitude to just play outweighed any fear of the intimidating task at hand.
“My teammates boosted my confidence going into the game,’’ Simmons said. “So I felt like I played pretty solid against them.’’
Seattle decided on Thursday that it was unlikely that Fluker — who is battling a calf injury — would be able to play.
When Fluker couldn’t finish the Chargers game, Seattle went with Joey Hunt, who was the only interior offensive lineman available as a backup.
Heading into Sunday’s game, Seattle could have chosen to go with Hunt again, or with Ethan Pocic a second-round pick in 2017 who began this season as the starter at left guard.
But on Thursday, wanting to give the 338-pound Simmons a shot against the Rams, Seattle told Simmons he would get the call.
“We thought he would be the best fit for this matchup,’’ Carroll said. “Another game, another time, we might not go that way. But that’s the way we thought it would be best for us.’’
The Seahawks had Pocic ready to go if Simmons struggled. But that wasn’t necessary as Simmons played the entire game.
Before Sunday, his only action was six special teams snaps against Arizona in September. He didn’t see any action last year while with the Raiders. Seattle claimed him off waivers when Oakland let him go in the cutdown to 53.
“I thought it was an unbelievable job by Simmons today,’’ said Carroll. “He had never even played before and stepping up and doing that was fantastic.’’
Simmons wasn’t even sure how many family and friends were in the stands only that it was a lot.
“Coming out here and starting meant a lot to me because I’ve been through a lot with injuries and whatnot,’’ he said. “So it’s a blessing.’’