Attaochu is transitioning from a 3-4 outside linebacker in departed defensive coordinator John Pagano’s defense to a LEO rush end in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme.
“He made it known that the scheme was really going to be a benefit to me,” Attaochu said, when asked what Bradley told him about the position change. “And I appreciate that he could see that.”
In order to make that transition smoother, Attaochu said he’s been watching film from the Seattle Seahawks’ defense in 2011 and 2012 when Bradley served as defensive coordinator there. In watching tape, Attaochu said he’s been focused on a specific player -- edge rusher Chris Clemons.
“I’m just working on the new scheme and seeing ways I can play faster,” Attaochu said. “The few months I wasn’t able to do everything, I’ve been watching a lot of film, really studying film on Seattle and teams that Gus has coached from 2011 and 2012, seeing players with similar skill sets as me and seeing how they are capitalizing in the scheme.”
Like Attaochu, Clemons moved from a 3-4 outside linebacker to LEO defensive end when the Seahawks got him in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. Clemons led the Seahawks in sacks from 2010 to 2012, averaging 11 per season.
At 6-3 and 252 pounds, Attaochu has a similar body type to Clemons and possesses the same speed off the edge of the defense. It’s just a matter of the Georgia Tech product translating those physical traits into production at the next level.
In order to do that, Attaochu has to find a way to stay on the field.
Attaochu, 24, suffered a broken right foot that forced him to the injured reserve in November, missing the final five games of the 2016 season. Attaochu also missed three games earlier last year due to an ankle sprain.
Attaochu had surgery to fix the injury in December -- his first surgery as a football player. Attaochu recently received a checkup from his doctor to see the progress from his injury, and he's where he's supposed to be. Attaochu said he should be full-go once training camp starts at the end of July.
A second-round selection by the Chargers in the 2014 draft, Attaochu has missed 14 games over three seasons due to injuries. He had his best year as a pro in 2015, finishing with 55 tackles and six sacks.
Scheduled to make nearly $1 million heading into the final year of his rookie deal for the upcoming season, Attaochu has totaled 10 career sacks in three NFL seasons.
“It’s just another mental climb that I have to make as a professional that a lot of other people have experienced earlier in their careers in college,” Attaochu said about the foot injury. “So it was definitely different for me, just sitting around for the past four or five weeks of the season.
“The most important thing is to not think about it. This is my fourth year in the league, and I’m a professional. I’ve had seasons where I’ve stayed healthy. I’ve had bump and bruises, but never anything that knocked me out entirely. So I think my job is to block out the past and move forward.”