Focus on: Clinton McDonald

Posted Sep 17, 2013

The veteran defensive tackle had a whirlwind weekend, which included flying from Arkansas to Seattle on Friday, re-signing with the Seahawks on Saturday and playing in the home opener on Sunday night.

Clinton McDonald was at home in Jacksonville, Ark., last Thursday doing what had become his routine since being released by the Seahawks on Aug. 31. Working out in 100-degree heat, with humidity to match.

Then the phone rang that night. It was the Seahawks.

“They asked me if I could play on Sunday,” McDonald said in the hallway outside the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Monday. “I said, ‘Yeah. Sure. I would love to play.’ ”

After flying to Seattle on Friday, the fifth-year defensive tackle signed his contract on Saturday morning in time to participate in the walkthrough that day and indeed did play in Sunday night’s 29-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

It’s one thing to say you can play, it’s something completely different to go out and do it after not having played in a game since the Seahawks’ preseason finale against Oakland Raiders on Aug. 29. But there McDonald was, getting a hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on one play and pressuring him into throwing the ball away on another.

Not an easy task for a 297-pounder.

“I started working out immediately after I got home, because I knew any day I could get a call from any team,” McDonald said.

During his hot-and-heavy workouts, McDonald was inspired by some sage advice from defensive end Red Bryant.

“Like Red always says, ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,’ ” McDonald said though a smile.

McDonald did make a side trip to Foxboro the week before so he could workout for the Patriots.

Being back at VMAC felt familiar, but also strange.

“It was all weird and it was kind of foreign,” he said. “Until we got into the game. That was a reminder like, ‘OK, this is what we do.’ ”

The fact that we was once again doing it with Bryant and nose tackle Brandon Mebane, his closest friends on the team, as well as the other D-linemen made it even more special for McDonald.

“There’s a certain camaraderie we have on this defense and it’s a blessing to be here,” he said.

McDonald originally came here in a 2011 trade with the Cincinnati Bengals, the team that selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He had 35 tackles that first season with the Seahawks and 27 last season. It seemed he had forged a role as the backup to Mebane and also a disruptive presence in the middle of the nickel line.

But the Seahawks drafted two D-linemen this year – Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams; and signed three others in free agency – Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel.

“I was a little surprised when they released me, but at the same time I knew it was a possibility – regardless of whether you’re Peyton Manning or you’re the last guy on the 53-man roster,” McDonald said. “So it’s always a thing in the back of your mind, but it’s always surprising when teams go that way.”

McDonald has seen the game from the business side as well as the playing side, which only makes returning to the Seahawks more satisfying.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Pete (Carroll, the coach) and John (Schneider, the GM) brought me back and I appreciate the opportunity.”