JOHN CLAYTON

Tony McDaniel’s return creates interesting decisions for Seahawks

Aug 24, 2016, 8:25 AM
Tony McDaniel...
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel has made a nice impression since Seattle brought him back last week. (AP)
(AP)

Tony McDaniel has taken camping to a new level in the NFL.

A little less than two weeks ago, he went to Leavenworth, Wash. for what might be considered a camping trip. McDaniel was with six people and planned to hike and kayak and just have a good time in a beautiful part of the country. As disappointed as he might have been about not being in an NFL training camp, he felt so good about this trip that he posted some shots on Snapchat. His agent called the Seahawks and talked them into working him out since he was already in the area.

“I was Snap-chatting the scenery,’’ McDaniel said. “The Seahawks said they wanted to bring me in for a workout to see what kind of shape I was in and I killed it. I ended up signing here.’’

McDaniel not only hit it with the workout, but he hit a home run in last week’s preseason game against Minnesota. From kayak to training camp, McDaniel has emerged as one of the most interesting decisions for head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.

It’s not out of the question that McDaniel could not only make the Seahawks’ roster but also end up starting the regular-season opener against Miami. Second-round pick Jarran Reed suffered an ankle injury and his left foot is in a boot. Reed was the likely starter for the opener, but if he’s not healthy, the Seahawks could use McDaniel on running downs.

McDaniel’s presence creates tough decisions at defensive tackle. The Seahawks have Ahtyba Rubin, Reed, Jordan Hill, fifth-round pick Quinton Jefferson, Sealver Siliga and promising undrafted rookie Brandin Bryant. Siliga has been hurt and might not make the roster. As much as they would like to keep Bryant, McDaniel might be more important to keep.

Before signing with the Seahawks, McDaniel’s biggest challenge was hydrating to get ready for training camp. Teams had called to check on his conditioning, but he was waiting for the right call. The 6-foot-7, 320-pound McDaniel stayed in shape by running, doing a little lifting and “a lot of hiking.”

“That’s great conditioning, especially for a guy of my size,” he said. “You hike five to six miles when you’re 320 pounds, that’s pretty good workout.”

It was understandable that McDaniel was unsigned as long as he was. This year wasn’t normal for NFL defensive tackles. The 2016 draft was considered to have one of the best groups of defensive tackles in the last 20 years. Teams naturally would want to see the rookies and then call the veterans after making some judgment.

McDaniel thought there was no chance he would be back with the Seahawks. He watched them draft Reed, whom McDaniel believes will eventually become a Pro Bowler. Then they traded up for Jefferson. The Seahawks weren’t looking for a 31-year-old defensive tackle.

The NFC West creates extra needs for run-stopping defensive tackles. McDaniel doesn’t mind being a role player and helping on run downs. The 49ers operate a fast-pace, Chip Kelly-run offense featuring Carlos Hyde at running back. The Cardinals and Rams also feature the run.

“I will try to help bring the younger guys along,’’ McDaniel said. “We got the Rams and Arizona and San Francisco all in our division and they all like to run the ball, and they all like to double team. That’s what I do. I can show the guys by example and they can learn from me.’’

McDaniel turned a vacation into a job and now he’s hiked up the competition at defensive tackle.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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