Since parting ways nine years ago with perennial Pro Bowl safety Rodney Harrison, the Chargers have been struggling to find a competent strong safety.
Some believed that the Chargers were targeting Mark Barron in round one of the 2012 draft, hopeful that he could become what they team has been missing since Harrison went to New England. But with Barron long gone before the Chargers picked, they could end up relying on one of the many free agents that team signed during the offseason.
Once a promising young defensive back for the Packers, injuries derailed Atari Bigby’s career in Green Bay, forcing him after the 2011 lockout to take what he could get on the open market — a part-time gig with the Seahawks. Now, he has a chance to become a full-time starter again.
“This was the opportunity I was looking for during the offseason,” Bigby recently said, via Scott Bair of the North County Times. “I just wanted a chance to start and play ball. Everything is going as planned, and I’m getting the chance I asked for.”
The guy with whom Bigby would be lining up likes what he has seen so far.
“The dude can play,” Eric Weddle said. “He’s been impressive to me by how he carries himself and the way he works. He’s a lot like me, only a little bigger. He’s very knowledgeable and understands the role of each player in the secondary. That’s why I think we’re going to have a solid working relationship.”
The boss is impressed, too.
“I really like his work ethic and professionalism,” coach Norv Turner said. “He’s clearly played a lot of football, and he has a good understanding of what we’re trying to do.
“He’s a complete player. Playing the run is his strength, but he’s a good pass defender and a solid special teams player. When he was in Green Bay, I thought he was a really good starting strong safety.”
After starting all 16 games in 2007 (after starting none in his first two seasons), Bigby was limited to seven games in 2008, due to a chronic hamstring problem. After starting 11 games in 2009, an ankle injury limited him to six total games (no starts) in 2010.
Last season, he appeared in 15 games with two starts for the Seahawks.
If he can stay healthy, Bigby could be ready to turn the clock back to 2007 — which could in turn help the Chargers turn the clock back to 2002.