Jennings out, McDonald in

Posted Aug 29, 2011

With the trade of cornerback Kelly Jennings to the Bengals on Monday, only 16 players remain from the Seahawks team that coach Pete Carroll inherited 18 months ago.

And then there were 16.

Players remaining on the Seahawks’ roster from the team coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider inherited 18 months ago, that is.

The latest to leave is cornerback and former first-round draft choice Kelly Jennings, who was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald.

Jennings became expendable because of the emergence of second-year cornerback Walter Thurmond and the arrivals of former CFL corner Brandon Browner in free agency and rookie Richard Sherman in the NFL Draft. One of them will start on the right side opposite veteran Marcus Trufant, which Jennings did for 14 games last season and 43 times since being the 31st selection in the 2006 draft.

Jennings made 200 tackles and intercepted two passes during his five-season stay with the Seahawks, including a career-best 55 tackles in 2007 when he also started a career-high 15 games.

Carroll and Schneider have been looking to get bigger at the cornerback position, and Browner (6-4, 221), Sherman (6-3, 195) and Thurmond (5-11, 190) fit that criteria. Each also has made plays this preseason, while the 5-11, 180-pound Jennings sat out Saturday night’s game against the Broncos in Denver because of a sore hamstring.

Browner has seven tackles, Sherman five and Thurmond had two in his preseason debut against the Broncos.

McDonald (6-2, 297) was a seventh-round draft choice by the Bengals in 2009. He spent his rookie season and the first half of last season on the practice squad before being added to the 53-man roster for the final eight games.

McDonald had eight tackles and forced a fumble in the Bengals’ preseason game against the Detroit Lions.

“I used to play kind of scared,” McDonald told after his breakout performance against the Lions. “I think I’m playing with more confidence this year. I’m just out there playing strong. I’m more (aware) of what’s going on.”

Even while a member of the practice squad, McDonald would greet the team bus at Paul Brow Stadium when the Bengals returned from road games – regardless of the time or weather conditions.

“I kind of felt like I was part of the team even if I didn’t travel and (wasn’t) at the games,” he said. “I felt I put in as much work with the D-line that week that I meet my soldiers when they came back. It was kind of like an encouragement thing. OK, ‘Go get them next time’; or, ‘Congratulations on a good job well done.’ I think guys appreciated it.

“Some of the guys made fun of it and laughed at it. But at the same time, that’s just who I am.”

As for who the new-look Seahawks are, only two players remain from the 2005 Super Bowl team: linebacker Leroy Hill and Trufant.

The others left from the team that Carroll and Schneider took over in January of 2010: punter Jon Ryan, wide receiver Deon Butler, running back Justin Forsett, cornerback Roy Lewis, middle linebacker David Hawthorne, linebacker Aaron Curry, center Max Unger, center Mike Gibson, defensive end Red Bryant, wide receiver Ben Obomanu, tight end Cameron Morrah, tight end John Carlson, nose tackle Colin Cole and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.