Focus on: Tony McDaniel

Posted Aug 26, 2013

After missing the first two preseason games because of a groin injury, Tony McDaniel didn’t just make his Seahawks debut on Friday night against the Packers; he made it one to remember.

The Seahawks knew Tony McDaniel could play. McDaniel knew he could make plays. But the question had been: Just when would McDaniel be able to play?

McDaniel not only played in Friday night’s game against the Packers in Green Bay, he made plays that helped the Seahawks post a 17-10 victory at Lambeau Field. Starting at the three-technique tackle spot in the third preseason game, the 6-foot-7 McDaniel deflected a pass and also used his 305-pound body to be a force in the middle against the run as the Seahawks held the Packers to 1.4-yard average on 11 running plays – including teaming with defensive end O’Brien Schofield to drop Eddie Lacy for a 3-yard loss on the first play of the second half.

After sitting out the first two preseason games because of groin injury, the first-half-plus stint was like Christmas in August for McDaniel.

“It was like one of those childhood memories waiting on Christmas,” McDaniel said Monday, when the Seahawks began practicing for Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field.

“It seemed like forever trying to get back out there. I was working hard trying to get back on the field. But I’m excited to be back.”

And the coaches are excited to have him back. McDaniel was signed in free agent with the thought that he could replace the length and leverage at the three-tech spot that was lost when incumbent starter Alan Branch signed elsewhere in free agency. The club also selected Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams in the NFL Draft, but Hill is sidelined with a strained biceps and Williams was placed on injured reserve on Monday because of a lingering knee problem.

So McDaniel flashing his potential was a needed sight.

“We were excited,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “We’ve seen Tony makes plays at practice. So we were anxious to get him out there and I was glad he had a good first outing. We saw some of the same things we’ve seen in practice, in terms of getting a TFL (tackle for loss) or using his quickness. He’s such a tall and long guy at defensive tackle that he was to make some plays. It was great for us to get a chance to see him do that.”

McDaniel’s size and length gives him the look of a player capable of tipping and batting passes when he’s just standing there. But it’s a big part of his game that he has honed since his days at the University of Tennessee.

“It’s something I’ve worked on a lot since college,” said McDaniel, who also spent three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and four with the Miami Dolphins. “I’ve always been a taller guy, so I can pretty much see over the offensive linemen and see the quarterback’s eyes and his movement.

“As I rush, I kind of watch the quarterback’s eyes and when I see his eyes get big I kind of raise up and try to bat the ball.”

McDaniel knew he had to produce in his first preseason game with the Seahawks, and now that he has it’s, well, let him explain the feeling.

“It put me in a good place,” he said. “You come back first game and make a few plays, it definitely was good timing. And I’m very excited.”