Daniel Te’o-Nesheim will have something specific to be thankful for on Thursday, an anniversary that has led to a second chance in his NFL career.
It was November 22 of last year when Te’o-Nesheim was signed directly off Philadelphia’s practice squad to the Buccaneers’ active roster. He would go on to play in just one game over the next six weeks, and thus it wasn’t a roster move that many Buc fans likely gave much thought as the disappointing 2011 season was coming to an end. Tampa Bay made a rather large amount of moves on its defensive line in the second half of that season, thanks to a rash of injuries, and most of the other newcomers proved to be short-time Buccaneers.
However, not only has Te’o-Nesheim stuck around, but he has emerged as a rather valuable asset on the Buccaneers’ defense, something the Eagles might have envisioned for themselves when they drafted him in the third round in 2010. When 2011 first-rounder Adrian Clayborn, the Bucs’ sack leader a year ago, was lost for the season with a knee injury in Week Four, it was Te’o-Nesheim who emerged as the “next man up.”
And the 25-year-old former Washington Husky, known mostly as “Te’o” in the Bucs’ locker room, has been something of a revelation in his new role. He is certainly not the focal point on a defensive line that also features Michael Bennett (7.0 sacks) and the emergent DT duo of Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller, but neither is he just a space filler. Since stepping in for Clayborn in the middle of that Week Four game, Te’o-Nesheim has contributed 27 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hits. This past Sunday in Charlotte he recorded a career-high seven stops, including one for a loss, and also contributed a hit on Panthers QB Cam Newton.
Te’o-Nesheim’s linemates appreciate not only the production he has brought but how much effort he puts into both his preparation and his snaps on game day.
“Te’o has been great for us, man,” said McCoy. “He’s a hard-worker and he hates making mistakes. That’s what I love about him. He gets so down on himself when he makes mistakes and we have to tell him, ‘Don’t get down, just fix it.’ But his passion about doing things right and doing everything he can to help this team, that’s what I love.”