Seattle rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, born without a left hand, admitted to being nervous when he entered the Seahawks' first preseason game Thursday night against Indianapolis at CenturyLink Field.
That condition lasted up until the fifth-round pick out of Central Florida experienced contact.
"I didn’t know how it was going to be so it was just me trying to get that first hit out of the way and once I got that first tackle, I was like, ‘you know what, I was supposed to be here and I kind of just let loose from there," Griffin told reporters Saturday following the team's first practice since the game.
Griffin, a backup inside linebacker, ended the night with nine tackles, six solo and one for a loss. His performance became news because he played with his twin brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and did so while playing with a disadvantage unique to the NFL. But not having a left hand didn't appear to be a factor for Shaquem against the Colts.
"He said he wanted to see guys run hard and hit, and that’s what I wanted to do so that’s what I did when it came down," he said.
Still, mistakes were made that Griffin wants to clean up.
“Just being able to have a better understanding of what’s going on before it happens," Griffin said. "I think I can do better when it comes to watching film and how I watch it. It’s definitely different now from college. I can be able to watch film all day and you’ll get so many different looks. If you watch film in a particular way now, you’ll be able to see certain keys that allow you to see the play before it happens."
Carroll said game video showed that once he settled in, the inside linebacker's play began to flourish.
“It took him a little bit to get his feel, and he would tell you that too," Carroll said. "He struggled slow. He was really hyped up and kind of amped and wasn’t moving well. Then, he slowed things down, backed up a little bit in his alignments and just really started hitting the line of scrimmage. You see the speed that he has and his nature to be aggressive and run through to be an attacking player really showed up for his first time out. And, he’s got a million things to learn, so he’s just getting started. But, the fundamental part of it (where you) run and hit showed. It was exciting and I was really glad that he contributed on special teams in such a big way.”
Shaquill Griffin started at left cornerback so he didn't see much action. Still, the pair relished the opportunity to share an NFL field.
"You feel that same energy, you feel comfortable and having him around and having guys that are willing to help me so much, it just makes me feel so much (more) comfortable when I’m out there," Shaquem said.
Shaquill called it an experience of a lifetime.
"You continue to work your technique and craft and as long as you play fast, you’re going to play good and that’s what he did," Shaquill said. "Everybody is going to make mistakes but as long as you’re playing fast and doing that, you’re going to be totally fine. He definitely played fast. He definitely did that.”
The twins live together along with their two dogs. Shaquem's dog, according to Shaquill, still needs to be potty-trained.
"I just keep him in his room," Shaquill said. "I let him deal with all that stuff, because I actually have a dog also. We got a yorkie (Melo) and then we got a blue French bulldog (Tank). When them two run around, it’s crazy and they fight 24/7. His dog acts just like a little brother because my dog is older than his and he acts just like a little brother. I could see why they argue so much but so far, he’s not doing too bad but he needs to get him potty-trained quickly."