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Jordan Simmons Finds Niche as Invaluable Swing Guard for Seahawks

Both of Seattle's starting guards - Damien Lewis and Mike Iupati - have missed significant action with minor injuries in the first five weeks. But a much-improved offensive line hasn't missed a beat thanks to the stellar play of Simmons, who has filled in admirably after several years of injuries.

RENTON, WA - Though he's now in his third season with the Seahawks organization and fourth overall in the NFL, Jordan Simmons hasn't played very much football.

After enrolling at USC, Simmons redshirted as a freshman in 2012 after undergoing knee surgery. The next season, he dressed for seven games before another knee injury ended his season. Bad luck continued in 2014, as he tore his ACL during a non-contact drill in practice and he appeared in just a single game.

By the time Simmons' eligibility had ran out - he applied for a medical redshirt but was denied by the NCAA - he had appeared in 22 college games with just two starts under his belt. While he impressed at USC's pro day with his size and athletic testing, NFL teams had little tape to work with and the Raiders took a flier on him as an undrafted free agent.

While he performed well at his first training camp, Simmons encountered yet another bump in the road several months later, as Oakland waived him as part of final roster cuts. But the massive 6-foot-4, 339-pound guard left a strong impression on his final opponent during the preseason and Seattle swiftly claimed him off waivers, uniting him with former USC coach Pete Carroll.

Over the past three seasons, Simmons has continued to battle durability issues. Following three promising starts as a replacement for D.J. Fluker in 2018, yet another knee injury ended his season early. Then, after undergoing two surgeries, he missed the entire 2019 season on injured reserve, clouding his future with the team.

But the Seahawks weren't ready to give up on Simmons. Even after initially declining his exclusive rights tender, the team re-signed the promising young blocker to a team-friendly one-year deal and after managing to stay healthy throughout training camp, he earned a roster spot as a reserve guard behind rookie Damien Lewis and Mike Iupati.

Considering the long, winding road Simmons has traveled and all of the adversity he has overcome to reach this point, Carroll can't help but be astounded by how well he's developed without seeing much game action between the lines.

"He hasn't had a chance to just really enjoy playing the game and been out there and keep coming back and growing with the game," Carroll told reporters on Monday. "Think how far he's come with the limited amount of background play. It's because he's a really talented kid and plays really hard and tough and huge and all of that."

As Seattle has raced out to a franchise-best 5-0 start, Simmons has played an integral role for one of the most improved offensive lines in the NFL. Whether rotating in for a series to give a starter a breather or playing every snap as a starter as he did against Minnesota in Week 5, the unit hasn't missed a beat whenever he's been in the lineup.

Logging 146 snaps, Simmons has been on the field for nearly 50 percent of the Seahawks offensive plays through five games. He's split his time at both guard spots, jumping in for Lewis after he sprained his ankle against the Cowboys in a Week 3 victory and replacing Iupati in the starting lineup against the Vikings two weeks ago.

After dominating as a run blocker in three starts a few years ago, Simmons has been particularly proficient in pass protection keeping quarterback Russell Wilson clean. According to ESPN's Pass Block Win Rate metric, he's tied for first in the NFL among qualified guards, maintaining blocks for at least 2.5 seconds on 97 percent of his pass protection reps. The other two players atop the list are Joel Bitonio of the Browns and Zack Martin of the Cowboys, who have a combined 10 Pro Bowls and eight All-Pro team selections between them.

Staying healthy will remain critical for Simmons, who has only dressed for more than seven games once in a season dating back to college. Every time he has seemed to have momentum, another injury has struck.

But Simmons appears to have found the perfect role as a swing guard in the perfect scheme for his talents and his presence gives the Seahawks the best depth they have had in the interior offensive line in years. Thrilled to see him performing at a high level, Carroll hopes his body will allow him to continue making an impact in the trenches when called upon, including potentially filling in for Iupati again this weekend against the Cardinals.

"It's wonderful to see him out there. He does give us flexibility. He's a run blocker and a pass protector. He's a monster of a size guy to keep the guys away from Russell, so really excited that he's been playing so well. We have no problem. He plays like a starter for us, and that's a real bonus for us."