Saturday, September 28, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> McDonald proves he is right for Seahawks

Leader sports editor

Exactly three weeks after being released by the Seattle Seahawks, and eight days after being resigned, former Jacksonville Red Devil Clinton McDonald turned in the best performance of his career last Sunday in the Seahawks’ 45-17 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. McDonald recorded five tackles and two sacks of Jaguar quarterback Chad Henne.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll surprised many NFL analysts when they cut four veterans, including McDonald on the final day of preseason cuts on Aug. 31.

McDonald played in every game last year, starting once and playing as the backup two-technique on the defensive line in the others. He had also started the final preseason game at nose guard and played well.

But the Seahawks drafted two defensive linemen and signed two others to free agent contracts during the summer, giving them an abundance of players on the line.

They had just signed McDonald to a restricted free agent contract over the summer reportedly worth about $1.3 million. Terms of the latest contract were not released, but it’s suggested by writer Clare Farnsworth that the new contract is worth less than the one terminated by the cut in August.

Even with all the defensive linemen, it took one game, a 12-7 win over Carolina in the season opener, for the GM and coach to decide they wanted McDonald back. They cut offensive linemen Michael Person to make room for McDonald on the 53-man roster.

At home in Jacksonville on Sept. 12, McDonald got a call from the Seahawks asking him if he wanted to play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. McDonald flew to Seattle on Friday, signed on Saturday, and was chasing 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out the pocket on their first drive on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

SNF analyst Cris Collins-worth, after McDonald hit Kaepernick as he released a throw-away pass out of bounds, commented that McDonald is freakishly strong for an undersized defensive linemen (6-foot-2, 297), and has the kind of work ethic all NFLers need. Collinsworth, a former Cincinnati Bengal, is familiar with McDonald partly because the Bengals drafted him in the seventh round out of Memphis, and put him on their practice squad his rookie year. He made the team his second year and played two seasons before being traded to Seattle, where he spent the next two seasons, playing in 29 games and recording 60 tackles.

True to the character that’s earned him a reputation as one of the best locker room guys in the NFL, McDonald came home after he was cut and went to work.

“Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,” McDonald told Farnsworth after the 49ers game.

He didn’t record a tackle in the 29-3 win over Seattle, but he exploded the following week on the rain-soaked CenturyLink Field.

McDonald will be back in action with the Seahawks at noon Sunday against the Houston Texans in Houston.