Long-awaited NFL debut ‘was surreal’ for former Tiger

Long-awaited NFL debut ‘was surreal’ for former Tiger

Football

Long-awaited NFL debut ‘was surreal’ for former Tiger

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Last season was a frustrating year for Tanner Muse.

After being selected by the Las Vegas Raiders in the third round (100th overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft, the former Clemson and All-ACC safety missed all of his rookie NFL season in 2020 after suffering a toe injury in training camp.

Muse has worked his whole life to accomplish his dream of being an NFL player, so it was difficult for him to have to sit out and watch the team play instead of being out there on the field with his teammates.

“It was tough for sure just not being able to be around the team, especially on traveling and that camaraderie that comes with the team, being in the locker room after wins, losses,” Muse said to the media on Tuesday. “It hurts as a competitor, but it was necessary to get to where I am today. So, I don’t look back on anything and wish any way else. I just keep going forward.”

Fast forward to 2021, and Muse is now fully healthy again.

And at long last, for the first time in more than 18 months, Muse took the football field last Saturday when he made his Raiders debut during the team’s preseason-opening 20-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“It was surreal for me,” Muse said. “Just being able to get back out there in front of the fans, it was awesome. I was just super excited. Had some family there as well. So, everything went well. I think I played well. We watched the film, made some corrections on some little things, so you can only get better from it. So, looking forward to the next week.”

Not only did Muse return to action last Saturday, but he came back at a different position.

A safety during his Clemson career from 2015-19, Muse has moved to linebacker with the Raiders and felt comfortable playing there in the preseason opener, when he posted a couple of tackles and a pass deflection.

“It felt great,” he said. “I spun down a lot at safety at Clemson, so it felt natural. I was in the spots that I’ve been in prior throughout my career, so it was no big deal. Just a little adjustment, using my hands a little more. But outside of that, it was great.”

With his season-ending injury in the rearview mirror, Muse can play free and easy again and compete without limitations or worry of aggravating the injury.

“It’s so easy,” he said. “I don’t have to think about anything, I just get to fly around. I don’t want to count my steps or anything like that, like I’ve done in the past couple years. I can just explode out of cuts and drops. It’s a new me.”

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