RENTON -- Having never played guard before in his entire football life and being asked to block Aaron Donald in his first regular season NFL action, you could forgive Jamarco Jones if his debut performance against the Los Angeles Rams last Thursday hadn't gone particularly well.
Donald is the two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and had racked up 6.5 sacks in his last three games against the Seahawks. And here was Jones, playing an unfamiliar position at a moment's notice, being thrust into the spotlight in a key early season divisional matchup.
But Jones didn't falter, he excelled.
“The moment wasn’t too big for him. He went in and he executed beautifully,” offensive line coach Mike Solari said.
Jones replaced D.J. Fluker after just nine snaps in last Thursday's 30-29 win over the Rams. Fluker injured his hamstring on the eighth play of the game and gutted out one more snap before leaving the game for good. Jones played the final 65 snaps of the game at right guard for Seattle and helped limit the Rams to just one sack of Russell Wilson. Donald was held without a sack for the first time in four games between the two teams.
“He did really well," head coach Pete Carroll said. "I was shocked that it was so smooth for him to move to the right side and play guard when there’s no background other than in practice, you know. He moved his feet well, he played strong. Assignment-wise he was solid. I think he got out of the game with no pressures, might have been the only guy up front that did that.”
Thursday night was Jones' first action on the offensive line in a regular season game. He had appeared in three of the first four regular season games on special teams only. He missed his entire rookie season in 2018 after a bad ankle injury in the preseason required surgery and a stay on the injured reserve list.
Jones was a left tackle at Ohio State and played the position in high school at De La Salle Institute in Chicago. The Seahawks selected him in the fifth-round of last year's NFL Draft and saw enough of Jones early on to have him take reps with the second-team offense in training camp. However, the ankle injury sustained in Seattle's first preseason game against Indianapolis quickly ended his rookie campaign.
That Jones' first real action would come at guard was a bit of surprise. But with Fluker out and Ethan Pocic inactive due to a mid-back injury, Jones was the one to get the call. Donald and the Rams didn't exactly present a soft landing for Jones, but he rose to the occasion.
"It was great," Jones said after the game.. "Coach [Mike Solari] and the other guys in the O-line room have helped me prepare and learn the things I need to learn to be able to go out there and step up in that moment and to be able to go out there and help the team get a win is a great feeling."
The Seahawks rushed for 167 yards against the Rams. Wilson was sacked just one and the team put up 429 yards of total offense in the one-point victory over L.A.
“Handling Aaron Donald, that’s a hard task to ask anybody to come in as their first game to go against, but he did a great job,” running back Chris Carson said.
Jones appears set to get his first start this Sunday in Cleveland. Fluker has been unable to practice due to the hamstring strain from a week ago and Pocic only just returned to full practice participation on Thursday. Jones' showing against the Rams would certainly seem worthy of another opportunity.
"Our coaches have always trusted him from the start," Carroll said. "He has really good awareness and really good sense for the game. He’s a natural playing the game and it showed up. Almost have to have some special savvy and qualities to be able to pull it off like he did.”
Jones still likely appears destined to be a tackle for the long-term. The Seahawks were thoroughly pleased with what he showed at the position a year ago before his injury and it's the position he's most comfortable playing. However, the versatility is always a plus and Solari believes it will benefit him at tackle as well.
"Truly it helps him because at guard everything happens quicker so you have to be more dynamic with your hands, you have to get your hands up cause everything happens so much quicker," Solari said. "So it will help him also being able to move in there and enhance his performance at tackle because it requires you to get your hands up quicker because everything happens so quick.
"He just has a nice feel for it and understanding angles and adjustments and proper feel of the line play. Not everybody has it. It’s something you develop. Obviously, the guys with experience have it. So it’s really exciting for Jamarco to have that in his game already."
-- Guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) and tackle Duane Brown (biceps) each missed practice again on Thursday. While Fluker appears unlikely to play against the Browns, Brown has been dealing with the biceps issue for the last two games and has played without missing time.
-- Guard Ethan Pocic (mid-back) returned to full participation in practice for the first time on Thursday since being sidelined following the Week 2 win in Pittsburgh.
-- Running back Chris Carson was limited in Thursday's practice due to a shoulder injury. However, Carson spoke with reporters prior to practice and said that he felt good considering the 49 carries he received in five-day span against the Arizona Cardinals and Rams.
“I feel good, close to 100 percent," Carson said. "It’s still early in the week, so we have some time. But I feel pretty good.”
-- Defensive end Branden Jackson returned to full participation on Thursday after a neck issue held him out of practice on Wednesday,
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 08: Malik Reed #59 of the Denver Broncos attacks Jamarco Jones #73 of the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of the preseason game at CenturyLink Field on August 08, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)