Very few NFL players have the luxury of job security, and Shaquem Griffin knows he isn’t among the list of names who are locks to make the Seattle Seahawks 53-man roster.
“Every day you’re fighting for a spot,” Griffin said Thursday. “No spots are given, and I know I’m going to work my butt off to make sure I get on the 53-man roster.”
But Seattle’s 2018 fifth-round pick is confident in the strides he’s made entering Year 2. As a rookie, Griffin never quite settled in as an off-ball linebacker. Now he’s transitioning back to a strongside backer, the same position he played at Central Florida.
Griffin is able to utilize his speed, chase the ball and set the edge at SAM – all things he feels he excels at. Seattle even has blitz packages for its SAM linebackers.
“Those are things that I’m used to,” said Griffin, who had 18.5 sacks over his final two collegiate seasons. “To be back in that position and doing things that I know – it feels comfortable. I’m trying to be myself out there.”
Ken Norton Jr. has seen the progress Griffin has made over the course of this offseason, both from a mental and a physical standpoint.
“Just his confidence, he really understands that he can play at this level,” the team’s defensive coordinator said. “He has a big amount of speed – the guy is really fast. He understands what he does best. I was watching him learn how to use his speed, and he’s really smart. Combine that speed with his brain – it’s amazing to see the things that he can get done, so we’re very happy with his development.”
Griffin logged 11 combined tackles as a rookie in 16 games (one start). Most of that production came on special teams. Griffin remains on every coverage unit for the Seahawks, and he made his mark there in the team’s first preseason game against the Denver Broncos. He forced a fumble against Broncos running back Devonte Booker on the opening kickoff.
Griffin understands his aptitude on special teams may be what keeps him on the roster.
“The coaches want to see which guys can hit and which guys are going to shy away from hitting,” Griffin said. “I want them to know that I’m not going to shy away from hitting.”
He also played 14 snaps on defense before leaving the game with a leg contusion. Now back to full strength, Griffin is likely to play a majority of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The goal over these final three exhibition contests is simple: Don’t be too greedy to make plays, stay within the defense and understand that his preparation will take care of everything else.
“The plays will come to you, and you’ll be ready,” Griffin said.