McDougald wants to play strong safety in Seahawks defense

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RENTON, Wash. (AP) Bradley McDougald's versatility has proven to be one of his most valuable assets since joining the Seattle Seahawks before the 2017 season.

While he's still willing to use that adaptability to get on the field, McDougald does have a preference on where he would like to play in Seattle's defense.

"I'm fully prepared to come in and play strong safety," McDougald said. "I'm willing to compete and battle with whoever. I can do both but I prefer to play in the box closer to the line of scrimmage. There is more for me to do there in the run game and man-to-man coverages."

During his time in Seattle, McDougald has risen from being a little hyped free agent signing to one of the most important pieces of the defense. He's started 25 of the 32 regular-season games he's played with the Seahawks, splitting time between strong safety and free safety. Last season, McDougald started 14 games at strong safety and a pair at free safety.

But with Seattle drafting safety Marquise Blair and safety/cornerback Ugo Amadi this year, it's opened up the option of moving McDougald around.

"I'm always willing to do whatever to make the team work and be an asset for the team, but I definitely intend to play in the box," he said.

McDougald has been a spectator for most of the offseason program after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn patellar tendon. McDougald suffered the injury in Week 8 last season against Detroit and managed the pain and discomfort through the final half of the season, when he had 36 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble over the final eight games. McDougald said he was told there wasn't much risk for a complete tear by continuing to play, it was more about how much discomfort he could handle.

"I was willing to show the team I could play through a little injury," he said. "We had to do some Band-aiding and a lot of resting. I didn't get to practice as much as I wanted to, I didn't get to see as many looks as I wanted to but I was still able to go out there and compete on Sundays, which was most important."

McDougald and the athletic training staff opted to go into the offseason trying to avoid surgery. But when McDougald felt he wasn't improving as fast as he wanted, surgery became the option.

"The plan didn't feel right in my heart and I kind of suggested 'what about an operation?' The rehab time is quick, I feel like my body recovers quick and that's the route that we went. They came up with a plan, we executed it for a while, I just didn't feel like I was healing fast enough."

McDougald seems to be on track to be ready when training camp begins in late July. He has recently started running and cutting at full speed.

"I was playing through a lot of pain, a lot of grief, but I feel like I'm in a much better situation right now," McDougald said. "My knee feels good, my body feels good. I'm ready to compete."

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