New Eagles safety O.J.Atogwe speaks
When the Eagles decided to ink veteran safety Oshiomogho “O.J.” Atogwe, they were making a educated roll-of-the-dice.
Atogwe was cut by the Redskins earlier this year and having played against them in the 2012 season, Andy Reid and DC Juan Castillo had plenty of recent tape on him to figure out of if he was a good fit for them.
The safety group that currently also includes Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen is considered to be the lone weak spot in a defense that is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2011-2012 run.
Of his potential contributions O.J. stated in a media statement that he’s willing to go all out to get it done.
“The team explained to me what my role was. As with all players on the team, your primary role is to help everyone else be successful. I’m going to come in, work hard, and do what is asked of me and what is expected to help the Eagles be successful this season.
With me just being a passionate guy who loves football, it was difficult not being on a team this offseason and not really have a chance to get to experience my teammates and get to enjoy the offseason experience with them. It was hard for me, but for the situation I was in, it was the best for me. It was something I had to deal with and I dealt with it productively.
I believe the time of the signing came exactly when it was supposed to because it happened when it happened. I’ve been ready to play football for some time now, and everything had to be right. I believe God opened the door when it needed to be opened, and I walked through it.”
One of the primary questions is that can he learn the defense having walked in the door so late in the preparation process?
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to be able to pick up defenses quickly. Having had played for [current Saints defensive coordinator Steve] Spagnuolo and learning the concepts of his defense, I know it doesn’t necessarily translate automatically on the field but I believe in my ability to pick things up and my aptitude of understanding. I don’t think the transition will be too difficult. It will definitely take some time to learn it and practice it to get it down, but this is the National Football League. If I was a rookie and coming in and learning it, I’d have the exact same challenges before me. It’s just something you handle dutifully and you get a good challenge out of it.”
According to O.J. it doesn’t hurt that he has something of a relationship with Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
“I’ve known Nnam for quite some time now. I wouldn’t say we’re close but we are familiar with one another. I played with his brother at Stanford, and I knew him when he was at Cal so I’ve known him for 9-10 years now. We haven’t had an extremely close relationship because we haven’t spent a lot of time together but we have been acquaintances for a long time now.”
Injuries have taken such a toll on him over the years that it’s often be hard for him to make a full 16-game run. Will this year be any different?
“I just had a few knick knacks that didn’t allow me to play as well as I had liked to. I’m past that now and I look forward to this next season. I feel great now and I’m at 100%, and I’m excited about going out and playing great football this next season.”