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Bradley McDougald may force himself into a role on Legion of Boom

Bradley McDougald's versatility may mean more snaps for the former Bucs safety in Seattle's secondary. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

RENTON, Wash. -- During a practice earlier this week, Seattle Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald lined up in the box, blitzed outside the left defensive end and "sacked" Austin Davis.

McDougald obviously wasn't allowed to hit the quarterback, but he got there in a hurry, and the coaches blew the whistle to signify that the play was dead.

After starting 31 of 32 games the past two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McDougald became a free agent this offseason. And he decided to join a team that has probably the best safety tandem in the NFL. Why?

McDougald said that when he met with the Seahawks, they explained that they could use him as a third safety in special looks. Right now, the focus is on learning both the strong and free safety spots. McDougald is the top backup behind Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. But at some point, it seems like McDougald is going to force his way onto the field one way or another.

"We’ve been in talks [about different packages] but more so focused on just getting the basics in, making sure that I’m getting aligned properly, that I know my assignments in each situation," McDougald said. "So I think they want to get the base stuff down before we move on."

The Seahawks experimented with three-safety looks last summer with Brandon Browner, but Browner was cut before the season started.

There would be a couple advantages to the "big nickel" package. Against teams that like to run the ball out of spread looks, McDougald would provide a bigger body than a typical nickel corner. And against teams that like to throw the ball out of multiple-tight-end looks, McDougald could match up with one of the tight ends.

"Last year, I was the covering tight end safety, the follow safety," McDougald said. "Follow tight ends from the left side of the field to the right side of the field. So I definitely have experience with it."

According to Football Outsiders, the Buccaneers ranked fourth at covering opposing tight ends last year.

"He has played both spots," coach Pete Carroll said. "He has been a guy that has worked through every team he has been on to the starting spot. It’s because of his mentality and his attitude that he brings. He is really aggressive. He plays right in the style that we love. I love that we can move him around because he has good background. He really looks like a great guy on our team.

"He is rotating with Earl and Kam and playing both spots so we feel like we have three guys who are starters for us at this time. We will see what happens with that. But it’s been a great get for us."

McDougald said he played some single high safety last year with Tampa. He added that the Buccaneers played a lot of quarters, which is a two-deep look that the Seahawks don't use much of.

Seattle signed McDougald to a one-year, $2 million contract. His exact role has yet to be determined, but the veteran looks like he's going to contribute on more than just special teams.