There’s one player with whom the St. Louis Rams are especially familiar. Just three games into the season, Rams Coach Steve Spagnuolo is aware that safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is no longer roaming his defensive backfield.
“He is one of my all-time favorite guys,” said Spagnuolo. “He is everything that you would want from a player playing for your football team... as a player, as a competitor and as a person. We miss certainly his character here and his football abilities.”
Rather than pay Atogwe an $8 million bonus in February, the Rams chose to release him. The Redskins quickly signed Atogwe as a free agent. The Rams are now 0-3, hoping Sunday’s game against Washington brings their first win.
“I think any time you lose a player with that kind of influence throughout the locker room, it’s tough to replace,” Spagnuolo said. “But we’re all replaceable, myself included. ...There is only one O.J. He’s a special guy.”
Atogwe said he doesn’t hold any hard feelings toward the Rams, though he’s known for a while that the Redskins had an early season trip to St. Louis on the schedule.
“I left St. Louis in a good place personally,” Atogwe said. “I’m here in Washington because I believe this is where God wanted me to be. There’s no bad blood between myself and the St. Louis Rams.”
According to the Redskins’ numbers, Atogwe has 17 tackles — 10 unassisted — through three games. He also has two pass defenses but is still looking for his first interception.
“It’s a big game for both sides,” Atogwe said. “They’re coming off an 0-3 start and they’re really looking to turn their season around by at least getting a win early on.
“And we’re coming off a tough loss where we believed we could’ve been the victors in that game; just didn’t make enough plays. Going into this game, both teams are going to play with a lot of passion. There’s going to be a lot of emotions.”