The Buccaneers signed two defensive linemen this offseason in hopes of solidifying a front four that already included a two-time Pro Bowler in Gerald McCoy. The first addition, Michael Johnson, cost over $43 million dollars through five seasons, while the second contract, Clinton McDonald’s, amounted to $12 million over four years.
The more productive player through eleven weeks? That would have to be McDonald.
While Johnson has been a disappointment thus far – notching just three sacks and missing two games – McDonald has quietly established himself as a vital part of the defense.
And while it seems he’s just now getting the credit he deserves, the coaches have relied on both his physical abilities and those that allow him to lead other players since day one.
“Clinton has been pretty steady all season long, but he has gotten better,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “His leadership has been great for us. He’s coming off of a Super Bowl winning team, and for him to stay as steady as he has, has kind of helped solidify some things with our other guys. To see his play continue to improve has made a difference.”
Along with Gerald McCoy, the former Seahawk has been a constant force up the middle by tallying four sacks on the year. McDonald had 5.5 through his first four seasons. What’s even more surprising, however, is his takeaway ability. After last week McDonald now has a fumble recovery to go along with his interception in Week 9.
“He seems to be around the ball a lot,” Frazier said. “Whether he’s pushing the pocket and creating something for someone else, or being around the ball like he was on Sunday and picking up a fumble. He’s one of those guys who kind of has a knack. You know what you’re going to get every week and every practice with Clinton. He’s been a good player for us.”
McDonald was less willing to take the credit. Like he’s done so often, the 6-foot-2, 297-pound tackle immediately praised his teammates for making the play. In this case, his fellow defensive linemen.
“Gerald does a great job each and every day of coming in and working hard,” McDonald said. “He does a great job on Sunday of getting to the quarterback and God allowed me to be in position to get the ball right when he hit it out. I was just happy to be there.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
He’s definitely been a good addition, as well as a bright spot on our defense. Glad we have him for the next few years.
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