DT Daniel Muir moves into the mix with impressive camp play
By Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette
~When the Green Bay Packers signed street free agent defensive tackle Daniel Muir in March, it barely registered among the bevy of offseason NFL transactions.
Even in Green Bay, it was overshadowed because at the time the Packers were in the midst of a higher-profile courtship with unrestricted free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove.
To most, Muir was just a guy who had been around the block, cut by three different NFL teams — the Packers in 2008, the St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts at different times in 2011. Given that he signed a one-year, $700,000 contract (the minimum for a fifth-year player) with no signing bonus or guaranteed money, he looked like he might be just another training camp body.
At best, maybe Muir would be a big guy who could play some nose tackle in the base defense against the run even though he had never played in a 3-4 scheme.
Five months later, Muir has turned out to be that and much more.
Stout against the run, energetic in every drill and with some surprising pass rush ability, Muir has played his way into strong consideration for some playing time at one of the deepest positions on the team.
“He’s a big, powerful guy,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Tuesday. “But some of those guys you see, they can’t rush. I don’t think that’s the case with Daniel. He does give you some rush, brings some tempo and intensity to the group.”
Though the 6-foot-2, 322-pound Muir had to adjust to playing the “zero” technique — which means he lines up directly over the center — after playing a shade spot in the Colts’ 4-3 for much of his career, he has fit in well as B.J. Raji’s backup. Capers then slowly worked Muir into the nickel package, which features two defensive linemen who are charged with providing some interior pass rush.
From the start of camp, Muir showed his pass-rush ability in the one-on-one drills. He has compiled a 17-24 record in the drill, for a winning percentage not too far off Raji’s 14-17 mark. His performance in the drill hardly resembles a guy who has one-half career sack in 43 NFL regular-season games, including 26 starts, from 2007-2011.
“One thing I can do is pass rush,” Muir said. “I’ve always had it. I’ve always been explosive.”
In the final two preseason games, beginning Thursday night at Cincinnati, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said he expects Muir to get a long look in the nickel package to see if the pass rush that he has flashed on the practice field carries over to the game.
Meanwhile, you won’t find Muir stressing out about it, not after what he’s been through. He was cut by the Colts last November after what he called the best month of football of his NFL career, which began as an undrafted free agent with the Packers by way of Kent State University.
As a rookie in 2007, Muir was active for just three games and then couldn’t land a roster spot in training camp the next summer. Indianapolis claimed him off waivers, and he played in 36 regular-season games for the Colts from 2008-11. He was active for three playoff games in 2009, including Super Bowl XLIV. He signed with the Rams as an unrestricted free agent in 2011 but was cut and then re-signed with the Colts last October, but it didn’t last.
He said he found out later he was released because the Colts coaches didn’t like his defensive stance.
“That’s what I was told,” Muir said. “I got released after an eight-tackle game because my stance was too wide. I guess that’s not something they wanted. But at the end of the day, who am I to argue? They’ve had a lot of success over there, so they had to do what they had to do.”
Out of football until the Packers signed him on March 23, Muir said he vowed to approach his next opportunity with a new attitude.
“When I was playing at Indianapolis, I felt like I let people take the joy out of the game for me, at times,” Muir said. “One thing I said is, when I come here I’m going to look at all the blessings I’ve got. I’m married. I’ve got kids. I’m stable. There’s nothing here on a daily basis that should stress me out and have me walking around down. So that’s really one thing I stressed to myself because I’m an emotional dude. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes I’ve seen myself reverting back to the old ways, and I just have to stop myself. It’s not worth it. Have fun playing.”
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