RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Will Tukuafu won't admit to having a favorite position. Just whichever one gets him on the field.
When the Seattle Seahawks signed Tukuafu at midseason, it was for the sole purpose of being a fullback. Even though he had a history of playing on the defensive line, both in college and in his first NFL stop at San Francisco, the Seahawks were in need of a lead blocker for Marshawn Lynch.
Because of injuries, Tukuafu's ability to play both sides of the ball has turned out to be a value.
"He's just an athlete," Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said. "He's been able to play fullback, play defensive end, whatever we need him to play. I think he's doing a good job for us. You see him come in and some of the holes he's opened up for Marshawn is amazing and the things he does on defense is amazing, too."
Tukuafu signed with Seattle in late October after starting fullback Derrick Coleman was lost for the season to a broken foot suffered in pregame warmups before the Seahawks' loss at St. Louis. Tukuafu had been working out in Oregon and made the drive up Interstate 5 to join the Seahawks.
At the time, the discussions were strictly about what he could provide as a fullback.
"I just come in and work every day and whatever they ask me to do I try and do to the best of my ability," Tukuafu said. "Whether offense, defense, special teams or if it's just offense or whatever, it's just going out here and doing my best."
Tukuafu entered the NFL as a defensive lineman. Through the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the 49ers, Tukuafu appeared in 18 regular-season games on the defensive line.
But late in the 2012 season, Tukuafu started to go in as a fullback in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
"Came in one day and they switched my number to 48 and was a fullback from then on," Tukuafu said. "Fullback and (defensive) line but more so fullback."
Tukuafu appeared in only five games last season for San Francisco — three of those coming in the playoffs — and the Seahawks were more than happy to pick him up when the need arose for a fullback.
His defensive line experience eventually came in handy. When the Seahawks went to Kansas City in Week 11, they had just lost defensive tackle Brandon Mebane for the season to a hamstring injury. They needed an additional body to try to stop the run and Tukuafu became the option.
He played four defensive snaps against the Chiefs; had another four against San Francisco in Week 15; played six snaps at Arizona in Week 16; and was in for three defensive plays against St. Louis in the season finale.
But most of his time has been on the offensive side as Lynch's lead blocker and part of a Seattle run game that finished the year as the best in the NFL, averaging more than 172 yards per game.
"It's easy when you have a guy like Marshawn back there," Tukuafu said. "Him and (Russell Wilson) and (Robert Turbin) ... you have guys like that and the (offensive) line that we have I wouldn't expect anything less."
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