Washington Redskins free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said Monday that he disagrees with coach Mike Shanahan’s statement that he still isn’t able to play full-speed.
Atogwe said that while he accepts the coach’s decision to use him as a reserve, he hopes to gain some clarity on how he can regain his starting job.
Shanahan said Sunday evening that Atogwe, whom the team signed this offseason to a five-year, $25 million contract, hasn’t been able to overcome hamstring, knee, toe and ankle injuries, and that was why rookie DeJon Gomes replaced the veteran in the lineup. It marked the second time this season that Atogwe has dressed and seen only spot duty.
“O.J. keeps on trying to go out there and play at a high level, but he’s playing injured,” Shanahan said. “He’s never been able to get back to full speed with the start and with the knee, and the ankle and the hamstring. But it’s good to have him up, because with Landry being down, we’re a little short on depth.”
Atogwe, however, has practiced fully the last three weeks, and says he can be effective if given the opportunity.
“I’ve been feeling really good. It was just the coaches’ decision,” said Atogwe, who recorded one tackle against the Patriots. “I feel like I’m able to play, go out there and contribute and help the team. But it’s coach’s decision on who plays and doesn’t play, and I support that.”
On what he has to do to prove to coaches that he can play at full-speed and make an impact, Atogwe said, “That’d be a question you’d have to ask coach. I expressed to them that I’m ready to go. I’d like to be out there with the fellows, playing football at the highest level possible. … That’s a question I’d like answered myself. I don’t really have an answer for you. I’m going to keep on practicing, preparing for the opportunity and keep being a professional.”
Atogwe admitted that this first season with the Redskins hasn’t lived up to his expectations. He hoped to join forces with strong safety LaRon Landry to give Washington a strong safety duo and lead a dominant defense. Instead, both he and Landry (hampered by Achilles’ tendon and groin injuries) have been in and out of the lineup, and Washington’s struggles have continued.
“It’s just been a long, challenging year, I think for the whole team,” said Atogwe, who came to Washington with the reputation of a ball-hawk and had recorded 22 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles in six previous seasons. This season he has one interception. “Each one has had to go through different adversities, different challenges, so I don’t think I’m any different. I’ll just handle it the best way I know how: faithfully, being obedient to what the coaches want me to do and just persevere through it.”
More Redskins news: