Preseason is a time for rookies to make their mark, climb the depth chart and show coaches they can be a factor when games count.
Enter Shaquem Griffin. The fifth-round linebacker gobbled up nine tackles, including six solo takedowns and one for loss, in the Seattle Seahawks' preseason opener Thursday night -- a 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
"I am really fired up about it," coach Pete Carroll said of Griffin's performance, via ESPN.com. "This is what he looks like in practice. He's running around. He's really fast. By understanding the scheme, he's utilizing his opportunities to be on the attack. He's a weapon in that regard. We have to see how accurate he was, if he was right if he was guessing a little bit, and how he hit it. We're really fired up. He was involved in nine or 10 tackles in his first time out. That's pretty good. He played quite a bit. He played a lot in the middle portion of this game, so we'll get some really good looks."
Griffin became the first player with one hand to be drafted during the NFL's modern era when the Seahawks nabbed him in the fifth round of April's draft, reuniting him with twin Shaquill, a second-year corner. Shaquem's left hand was amputated at 4 years old due to a congenital birth defect.
Shaquem, who replaced starter K.J. Wright at weakside linebacker after one series, downplayed his promising performance.
"I just played football," Griffin said, via the team's official website. "Me just being here, it's amazing and it's a blessing, I give all thanks to God, but I'm just here to play football."
Griffin is expected to play a reserve duty as a rookie, and is trying to earn more snaps in a part-time role once the games begin to matter. The 23-year-old's initial performance showed the Seahawks young defense won't fall off a cliff if Wright misses time with injury this season.
The young linebacker drew the attention of his teammates with his play Thursday night.
"I was actually talking to see some of the defensive players about that," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said of Griffin's work. "To see 'Quem out there with his brother, them on the sidelines and stuff. The reality is he's got no (left) hand, and to think about that and how good of a football player he is is really, really cool to see. It's really a testament to hard work, it's a testament of anything's possible. He's playing in the National Football League, playing linebacker and tackling people with only one hand. And he's not just tackling people, he's making plays -- he picked me off in practice, so I know he's making plays. He has done that the whole time, he does it the right way, he's professional, and he's got a brother to look up to who has been in the league for an extra year. Just to think about that is pretty cool."
Yes, it's just one preseason game, but Shaquem Griffin and the other young Seahawks defenders gave a glimpse that perhaps Seattle's revamped D is closer to a reload than the rebuild than most thought entering training camp.