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The Chargers Need Jerry Attaochu on the Field

For the second year in a row, GM Tom Telesco traded up in the second round in the NFL Draft to select a linebacker. Also for the second year in a row, that linebacker has struggled to see the field early.

Norm Hall

Maybe it's my soft spot for pass rushers, but Jeremiah Attaochu is the most frustrating Charger as far as I am concerned. Yes, hamstring injuries are tricky and this is not a declaration of his lack of toughness. However, he has been inactive for two games and only played a single snap in another. I just want to see the rookie play, for a number of reasons:

He is already productive

Expected to be a pass rushing specialist in his rookie season, Attaochu has only seen 36 snaps as a pass rusher so far in 2014. To put that in perspective, Dwight Freeney leads the team with 172. In what is a very, very small sample size, Attaochu has been impressive. He had a strip-sack that lead to a touchdown in the first game of the season, and disappeared until the last game in Oakland where he notched a pair of hurries and another strip sack nullified by a penalty.

Viewed as a raw player coming out of Georgia Tech, the school's all-time sack leader has already made some noise in the NFL. With Melvin Ingram on short-term IR, Attaochu will play an important role as an edge rusher on passing downs as long as he is healthy enough to be out there.

He needs to learn

Although the Chargers have a number of outside linebackers on their roster, there are plenty of question marks surrounding the position's future. Jarret Johnson has been tremendous in his time as a Charger, he will be 34 years old and owed over $7 million in 2015. Dwight Freeney is also getting long in the tooth and will be a free agent after this season. Melvin Ingram hasn't shown the ability to play at a high level consistently, not to mention he has spent the better part of the last two seasons on IR. Attaochu has a chance to learn from one of the best pass rushers of all time, but needs to be on the field to do so.

He needs to relieve Dwight Freeney

As much as I believe that Dwight Freeney has been the most valuable player on the Bolts' defense, his snap count is getting out of control. He has played 262 snaps, or about 71% of the total for defense. He has seen the field more snaps than any member of the front seven outside of Donald Butler. The Chargers are playing with fire having their 34 year-old pass rusher coming off of a torn quad muscle play so many snaps. If they want his production to last throughout the season, then Freeney's playing time has to decrease. With Ingram out, Attaochu is the only player on the roster fit to fill that role.

Get back to 100% soon, Jerry. I can't wait to see what you can do.