Rookie Elijah Nkansah had been on Seattle's practice squad all season until an injury to Germain Ifedi in practice last week opened up a spot on the roster. Nkansah got just one play but made it count.
Elijah Nkansah didn’t need many words to describe his first play in a regular-season NFL game for the Seahawks last Sunday against the Chiefs.
“Man, it was perfect in every way,’’ Nkansah, a rookie offensive tackle, said a few days later, sitting in front of his locker at the Seahawks’ facility in Renton.
So, in a way, is Nkansah — for now, at least.
Nkansah played just one play against the Chiefs Sunday, entering at right tackle when George Fant left with an ankle injury midway through the first quarter (Fant was starting in place of injured Germain Ifedi).
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It was third-and-inches at the Kansas City four and Chris Carson plowed between Nkansah and Ethan Pocic for a touchdown that put Seattle up 7-0.
When Seattle got the ball back, Fant had recovered and returned to the game and Nkansah (pronounced en-CON-zuh) wasn’t needed again.
“He’s one-for-one,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of his touchdown-to-plays ratio. “He’s perfect.’’
In case any of his teammates somehow missed the sequence, Carroll pointed it out during a film session this week letting them know that for now, a record-holder is in their midst.
“I’m telling you, you come in, you’re one-for-one,’’ said left tackle Duane Brown. “That’s a great stat when you come in the game and you score a touchdown. It doesn’t happen at all like that.”
Nkansah’s goal, of course, is to eventually get on the field again and be able to talk about more than just one play.
And maybe he’ll get that chance as Nkansah has shown enough during his three-plus months on the practice squad and one week (so far) on the active roster to indicate he has a chance to be part of Seattle’s future.
“He’s done a great job,’’ said Brown. “He’s just kept his nose down and been working all year.”
Brown has gotten to know Nkansah well since Nkansah has typically worked behind him at left tackle in practice since being signed to Seattle’s practice squad in September after being waived by Tennessee in the cutdown to 53.
Nkansah signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo, where he started three seasons, two at right tackle and one at left.
It’s not quite the career path Nkansah had pegged for himself as a kid in Mason, Ohio, about 22 miles or so outside Cincinnati.
He was primarily a baseball player growing up, saying he idolized Ken Griffey Jr., who has a statue in Seattle but played the bulk of the 2000s with the Reds.
That wasn’t his only favorite player, though.
Who was another?
“Ichiro,’’ he says.
So maybe it was fated he someday play in Seattle.
He said a baseball injury helped lead him to try football again as a sophomore in high school.
Still, despite now standing 6-5, 315, Nkansah didn’t make the varsity at William Mason High until he was a senior.
He had just two scholarship offers — from home state schools Ohio and Toledo — each, he said, coming after he attended camps there.
He said he never really gave a thought to the idea he might someday play in the NFL until his junior year when he was part of a line that led a Toledo offense that also featured running back Kareem Hunt to an average of 38 points a game and a 9-4 record.
“Going to the NFL wasn’t always the plan,’’ he says. “But it worked out that way.’’
He was considered a possible late-round draftee last April but went unselected, eventually singing with Tennessee, then finding himself in Seattle on the Seahawks’ practice squad after being cut by the Titans.
He might have stayed there all season had not Ifedi hurt his groin in practice last week. With Ifedi ailing, the Seahawks promoted Nkansah last Saturday to add depth at tackle.
When Fant went out, Nkansah said he thought at first maybe the Seahawks would shift players around to fill his spot. Instead, he heard his name called and rushed in.
It happened so quickly that Carson said he didn’t really know Nkansah was even in the game.
“We’re in the huddle so fast,’’ Carson said. “We don’t really be knowing who is in.’’
Nkansah handled his assignment well enough, getting just enough of an arm to push All-Pro four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Justin Houston out of the way to clear space for Carson.
“He did a good job,’’ Carroll said. “He ran a guy off the football and I realized it when he came off the field, so we had some fun with it on the sidelines. I was hoping he’d get a chance to go back in so we could score again but it didn’t come up.”
Said Nkansah: “It was a surreal moment but it was a lot of fun. I didn’t mess up and we scored and we ended up winning the game. So it was a great feeling.’’
Now to do it again someday.