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  1. #1
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    Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    By Nick R.K. Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    It didn’t take long for Oshiomogho Atogwe to begin doing research after hearing his name called in the third round of the NFL Draft.

    Although he didn’t quite have his Rams’ defensive playbook yet, the young safety out of Stanford took it upon himself to see where he would fit in once he received said playbook.

    “I was aware that they were in need of safeties, but I didn’t know to what extent until after they had drafted me and I really started to research, checking the website,” Atogwe said. “After they drafted me, I checked out who they had and who they didn’t have. When I looked at the roster, there was only one active safety on the roster in (Adam) Archuleta, so I knew they needed someone to come in and play early and I have my goals set on that.”

    Leave it to the player from Stanford to do some extra studying. It is that kind of dedication and cerebral approach to the game that landed Atogwe in St. Louis with the second pick of the third round, No. 66 overall.

    With a situation at safety that could be described as nothing short of dire heading into this offseason, the Rams opted to add a plethora of possibilities for the position in hopes that at least a few of them could step to the forefront and claim a spot.

    As it stands, Archuleta is the only returning safety and should be a starter. Archuleta is recovering nicely after a back injury severely limited him last season. That leaves the other safety spot open for one of the many competitors.
    Joining Atogwe in what should be the most heated training camp competition are Michael Stone, Michael Hawthorne, Mike Furrey, Jerome Carter and perhaps cornerback Ronald Bartell.

    Although he is a rookie, Atogwe is starting new with the Rams just like his competition, meaning that there probably isn’t a clear favorite to win the job. It’s that open possibility that has Atogwe excited about the start of training camp.
    “I feel like they brought in a lot of DB’s for a reason,” Atogwe said. “Competition will end up bringing out the best players with whoever can stand the heat. I feel like it’s good for the team.”

    Atogwe became accustomed to competition in the camps and workouts leading up to the draft. It was there that he jockeyed against the likes of Carter and Bartell for draft position.

    Now, that competition is done and those three are teammates, but, as life in the NFL dictates, the competition never ends.

    “It’s definitely easier, that stress is gone, but now you are competing for a job so there is a little stress there,” Atogwe said. “It’s just a little competition amongst friends, that’s all.”

    That competition probably won’t be settled until training camp concludes. There are a number of things that could set one safety apart from another. Each players has his strengths and weaknesses, it will be the ability to fit into the Rams’ system that determines how they fare.

    According to coach Mike Martz, St. Louis has a different system when it comes to safeties than most teams. Most teams employ the traditional free and strong safety while the Rams place an emphasis on area of coverage.

    “Right now we have a right and a left safety, it is not one of those situations where you have a linebacker-type safety and a corner-type safety,” Martz said. “We would like to think that we have more corner-type people in both safeties.”

    In other words, whereas most teams have a strong safety (the linebacker-type) such as Denver’s John Lynch and a free safety (generally more the cornerback-type) such as Aeneas Williams was for the Rams, St. Louis will have two safeties that can do some of both.

    That means when the coaching staff is evaluating who fits in where, they probably won’t have the group divided into free and strong safeties. Instead, all the safeties will work in drills together and be judged based on their ability to make plays in coverage as well as in the box.

    This is where Atogwe might have a leg up on the competition and is one of the rookies with the best chance to play or even start right away.

    “He is a very solid player,” Martz said. “There are just no nicks on him in terms of a particular area where we might have to get him up to speed. He will make an immediate impact for us on special teams and he is going to have a chance to go in there at safety and earn a spot as a starter potentially.”

    Of course, Atogwe isn’t the perfect player or he would have gone off the board much sooner. At 5’11, 215 pounds, he is a little on the small side for a safety and he has average speed for a safety.

    On the other hand, Atogwe is an intelligent player who majored in biological sciences at Stanford. He also has a reputation as a hard worker, spending time working as a paperboy in Windsor, Ont., Canada, a busboy at a racetrack and held summer jobs working for a landscaping company and detassling corn.

    Atogwe’s work ethic and experience should make competing for a football job a relatively easy task by comparison. After all, he has always accomplished what he set out to do.

    "I love being here in St. Louis," Atogwe commented. "I am playing for the best coach in the league right now. I have a friend that works for the Pats organization and he has told me they would trade, in a heartbeat, Belichick and Brady for Martz. Everyone in the NFL knows Coach is a cut above everyone else."

    Concerning his role with the Rams, Atogwe said, “It’s always an option to be a starter. I don’t try to put limitations on myself. I just perform my best and if the coaches feel I should be a starter, I will not be shy in accepting that role.”


  2. #2
    maineram Guest

    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Belichick & Brady for Martz ???? I guess he is taking the cereberal approach. :drunk:

    Maineram

  3. #3
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    "I love being here in St. Louis," Atogwe commented. "I am playing for the best coach in the league right now. I have a friend that works for the Pats organization and he has told me they would trade, in a heartbeat, Belichick and Brady for Martz. Everyone in the NFL knows Coach is a cut above everyone else."
    Ha! That's classic.
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  4. #4
    psycho9985 Guest

    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    I'd rather keep who we have so we're not called cheapshot artists.

  5. #5
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    "I love being here in St. Louis," Atogwe commented. "I am playing for the best coach in the league right now. I have a friend that works for the Pats organization and he has told me they would trade, in a heartbeat, Belichick and Brady for Martz. Everyone in the NFL knows Coach is a cut above everyone else."

    That was a gem.... LOL
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  6. #6
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Forget Schulters, Atogwe just went up a few notches in my book.




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  7. #7
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Atogwe is an intelligent player who majored in biological sciences at Stanford. He also has a reputation as a hard worker, spending time working as a paperboy in Windsor, Ont., Canada, a busboy at a racetrack and held summer jobs working for a landscaping company and detassling corn.

    Atogwe’s work ethic and experience should make competing for a football job a relatively easy task by comparison. After all, he has always accomplished what he set out to do.
    Smart and driven....sounds like a good combination. I think we may pull a couple of good safeties out of this group.
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  8. #8
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    I really hope Atogwe earns the starting job at FS this year, and Jerome Carter can take over for Archuleta soon at SS.

    Also, this whole left-safety, right-safety thing that Martz is trying to sell us isn't making much sense to me. If you look at our roster we don't have that many safeties that cover and are good in run support.

    Atogwe = both
    Archuleta = run
    Bartell (possibly) = pass
    Carter = run
    Furrey = not sure
    Hawthorne = pass
    Stone = pass

  9. #9
    OldRams fan Guest

    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    hELLO TO ALL : I have been a RAMS fan for 46 years and this is a new site for me , I am so happy to see this forum is here ! ! ! Atogme seem to have the intelligent's and he seems to be commented and thats a major quality in the NFL
    his speed concerns me a bit we shall see , If he does start it would open up some the (D) some what ?... Hey thanks again for this site its great and look forward to talking to you all , some of you might know me from our RAMS site .
    SEE YA !

  10. #10
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Welcome to the Clan.

    Post often!

  11. #11
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Welcome aboard, ORF.

    Nobody can ever call Atogwe a dummy. First day on the job...refer to your boss in the most flattering of terms...as the Guiness Guys would say, "BRILLIANT"!!!
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  12. #12
    DJRamFan Guest

    Re: Atogwe Hopes to Make the Grade at Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    "I love being here in St. Louis," Atogwe commented. "I am playing for the best coach in the league right now. I have a friend that works for the Pats organization and he has told me they would trade, in a heartbeat, Belichick and Brady for Martz. Everyone in the NFL knows Coach is a cut above everyone else."
    Is this like Jeff Van Gundy's comments about the refs a few weeks back? :drunk:

    I wouldn't trade Martz for anyone regardless.

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