McDaniel has been an unheralded member of the Seahawks’ defensive line this season — but a big reason the defense ranked third in the NFL in run defense.
He apparently suffered a shoulder injury against Carolina and did not practice Wednesday, leaving a question about whether he would be able to play in the NFC title game against Green Bay.
The Hawks can’t afford another injury to their D-line, which has been the most injured position on the team this season.
Of the Seahawks’ 17 players on IR (fourth-highest number in the league), seven are defensive linemen. That includes starting nose tackle Brandon Mebane and second-year rush tackle Jordan Hill, who both were playing great football when they were injured.
With all of Seattle’s former draft picks at the position on IR, the only guys still standing on the line were veteran acquisitions. And if McDaniel had not returned to practice, the Hawks would be relying on street pickups to fill the void against a Green Bay offense that has averaged 137 rushing yards over the past eight weeks, including 152 vs. the Detroit Lions’ No. 1 rush defense in Week 17.
General manager John Schneider has been able to find guys to replace the injured linemen, and the Hawks’ veterans have not let the quality of play slip one step, but the 6-foot-7, 305-pound McDaniel would be tough to replace.
None of the Hawks’ current DL reserves have his size: Landon Cohen is 6-1, 290; Demarcus Dobbs is 6-2, 282; David King is 6-4, 281.
Fortunately, it appears McDaniel will be ready to go.
In fact, all of Seattle’s injured players practiced Thursday: right tackle Justin Britt (knee), center Max Unger (ankle), tight end Tony Moeaki (calf) and safety Jeron Johnson (elbow).