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Linebacker Camaraderie Beneficial for Attaochu

Posted Jul 28, 2014

San Diego’s rookie linebacker looks to his teammates for pro football guidance.

When a franchise trades up for a player in the draft, the level of expectations increase for both the team and the athlete.  Luckily for the Chargers, 2014 second round selection Jerry Attaochu’s humility and skill makes him a great fit for the team.

Attaochu has greatly enjoyed his warm San Diego welcome as well as the past few days at training camp, especially the padded practices.

“(In pads) you can go full speed…you can go game speed and you can play without a break,” Attaochu said.  “But it’s been fun.  Just getting to work with these guys and getting the older guys to help (me) with being a rookie.  I’m just trying to embrace it knowing that everybody’s gone through it.”

Two players who have gone through it are veteran linebackers Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney, who have taken on mentoring roles with Attaochu.

“It’s good to have them in the room,” Attaochu explained.  “We have a lot of young players in the linebacker room so just to have them in (there) provides leadership for the younger guys.  Things they’ve seen on the field that can help us.”

The linebacker corps is one of the Chargers’ deepest positions.  The wealth of knowledge each player brings to the room is immense and Attaochu is thankful for their guidance, including some recent rookies.

“The younger guys, Manti (Te’o) (and) Melvin (Ingram), who’ve come in as rookies more recently are fresher as to what I need to transition,” he said.  “The linebacker room is a collective thing.  They’re helping all the guys in the room.  Talking to us, telling us little details about our game, things they’ve seen in their careers that can help us out.”

At 6-3, 252-pounds, Attaochu started all 13 games last season for Georgia Tech, recording 45 tackles and leaving with a legacy: he’s the team’s all-time leader in sacks (31.5).  He completed his collegiate career with 196 total tackles, 43.5 tackles for loss and was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick at Georgia Tech obtaining first-team honors his senior season.

Despite being a standout player for the Yellow Jackets, Attaochu knows if he wants to generate pass rush in the NFL, he’s going to have to bypass some of the league’s biggest offensive linemen.  Who better to practice against than D.J. Fluker and King Dunlap?

“(Those guys) are as big as it gets so (I’m) working my techniques against that.  Trying to get around those guys…they’re like mountains.”

Attaochu said his key to getting past some of the league’s biggest players is to play to one’s individual strength.  Attaochu’s?  Speed.

“I’m helping them too, trying to give them what I have in my speed…we’re just trying to make each other better.”

Attaochu says he’s seen improvement in his ability to pick up the Bolts’ defense from rookie minicamp through OTAs and now training camp.  Still, he knows he needs some time before the defense becomes a cerebral concept.  But if his evolution as a player thus far is indicative of his teammates’ help, he’s well on his way toward accomplishing that feat.




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