Miami Dolphins’ T.J. McDonald on locking in on targets; beef with OBJ

T.J. McDonald, then with the Rams, tackling Jay Ajayi, then with the Dolphins. McDonald makes his Dolphins debut this Monday at Carolina. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

DAVIE — There was this play involving T.J. McDonald, then a safety for the Rams, and Odell Beckham, Jr., a receiver for the Giants, worth asking about on the day the new Dolphins safety began practice for his first regular-season game.

McDonald is a ferocious hitter, capable of laying out any receiver at any moment.

But on this play, what stood out was how McDonald gave Beckham a hard shove off the field after a catch and then followed him for 10 yards, jawing at the receiver all the way as they went facemask-to-facemask, McDonald never backing down.

McDonald is the type of player who inspires teammates with his hits, relentlessness and passion for the game.

McDonald is the type of player who was a captain when he played at USC.

“Our whole team was going at it,” McDonald recalled of the Beckham, Jr., play on Thursday. “I’m not afraid to let them know, ‘Look, I’m here.’ I don’t care who it is. I’m here. And I’m going to be here. I’m not slowing down. Odell is a great player. He was young at the time. He was a rookie. We were all riled up. We were talking. He was doing all the dances and everything. He’s definitely proving his worth now. But at the time, that’s just how I am. Am am fiery. I get fired up.”

McDonald is also a huge hitter, as featured in this Daily Dolphin blog earlier in the day:

VIDEOS: T.J. McDonald, who returns for Miami Dolphins today, delivers violent hits

In one memorable destruction of receiver Andre Caldwell of the Denver Broncos, McDonald launched himself through the middle of Caldwell’s torso and hurt the receiver so badly he was hunched over in extreme pain.

“I just get locked in,” McDonald said. “I talk about it but it’s hard to explain. I lock in on the target. When I get on course, I’m not slowing down. Once I get on course, I’m not slowing down. There is no fear. I don’t want to put it that I don’t have regard for my body, because I do, but at that moment I really don’t.”

McDonald said he’s changed the way he deliver blows in the NFL.

At USC, when there was a point of emphasis on targeting penalties, he was called three times in one season.

“I stay clean,” McDonald said. “Make sure I am below the helmet. Don’t ever lead with my helmet. Lead with my shoulder. I don’t want to hurt myself anyway. When I was in college I was one of the first ones to ever get called for targeting. Then they started suspending you for the first half of the next game. Once I went through that, I was like, ‘Man, do I have to figure out a different way?’ So out of all the hits that you see on those videos, I’ve never had a targeting penalty since I’ve been in the NFL.”

McDonald knocked on the wood of his locker.

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VIDEOS: T.J. McDonald, who returns for Miami Dolphins today, delivers violent hits

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