The Seattle Seahawks planned for Tony McDaniel to start at defensive tackle on Sunday against the New York Giants.
But McDaniel was sick – apparently very sick – and that allowed Clinton McDonald to make his first start of the season.
By the account of his coach, McDonald stepped up to the challenge and contributed in the Seahawks’ 23-0 victory against the Giants. It was Seattle’s first shutout of the season and the first time the Giants were held scoreless at home since 1995.
“Tony McDaniel was really sick – he was violently ill – and we couldn’t get him ready to go,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “Clint started, he was active, and he’s had a fantastic year for us.”
In August, it looked as if McDonald might not contribute at all.
After being a backup the two previous seasons, he was released at the end of training camp. He went home to Arkansas, continued working in the sweltering late-summer heat, and was re-signed two weeks later.
After that brief but hard look at life without football, McDonald came back a different player.
“It just seemed that something happened, like the light went on or the sense of urgency changed,” Carroll said. “He said that he’d never really felt like he’d ever been cut before. He had kind of been released and brought back on practice squads and stuff. This was the first time he really felt it. Sometimes you’ve got to learn the hard way. But he’s really been able to step up his game and be a really good asset for us.”
Through 13 appearances this season, McDonald has contributed 27 combined tackles and two fumble recoveries. He also has recorded the first 4.5 sacks of his career, along with his first interception.
“He’s been more active,” Carroll said. “He did lose some weight … he came back at 285 (down from about 300) and just seemed to be quicker and more active, and by far the most active that we’ve seen him. He’s been very consistent, too. He’s played real well and done a great job.”
McDonald, 26, was Cincinnati’s seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Memphis, and he was traded to Seattle in 2011. He had 35 tackles in his first season with the Seahawks and 25 last season.
Carroll said he doesn’t yet know if the left-guard rotation of Paul McQuistan and James Carpenter will continue Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals visit CenturyLink Field. … Linebacker K.J. Wright had what Carroll called “a great surgery” on his foot last week. “They predicted he could make it back to running in four or five weeks, and we’ll see what that means,” Carroll said. “… But they have a real good prognosis going that he’s going to be able to get back out there and challenge to be able to play – if we can keep playing games. That’s a long way down the road.” … In other injury news, Carroll said the status of cornerback Brandon Browner (groin) and receiver Percy Harvin (hip) will be determined Wednesday when the Seahawks return to practice. Cornerback Jeremy Lane (stinger) appears fine. … When the Seahawks returned home Sunday night, they received a reception that registered with their coach. “Judging from the amount of people that showed up at the airport and here at the (Renton practice) facility when we got home (Sunday) night, I think the area’s pretty cranked up about finishing this season,” Carroll said. “Incredible 12th Man support here, and also in New York. I don’t know where they came from, but they were out there and they showed really well and had a good time.”
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