The Jaguars have shifted the former first-round draft pick from defensive tackle to defensive end, getting the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Hawaiian in a run-stopping role while allowing him to work in space.
"We feel it's a good fit," coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday. "He's all in favor of it, feels like it's a better fit for him."
Alualu was the 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft, a selection widely considered a reach. It didn't help that Alualu injured his right knee in the preseason of his rookie year. Instead of getting surgery, he played two years with nagging pain and occasional swelling.
Alualu finally had his knee cleaned out last offseason, but he still didn't feel 100 percent last fall. Nonetheless, he started all 16 games for the third consecutive season and finished with a career-high 82 tackles.
Now, though, Alualu's knee feels the best it has since college and could allow him to flourish in his new role off the edge. "I tell you what, it's been the best it's felt for the offseason," Alualu said. "It's real close to 100 percent."
Despite Jacksonville's pass-rush problems -- the franchise has averaged 24 sacks over the last five seasons -- general manager Dave Caldwell and Bradley did little to upgrade the defensive line. They signed defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks in free agency, finding replacements for Terrance Knighton and C.J. Mosley. But they seem content to give Jason Babin, Jeremy Mincey, Andre Branch, Austen Lane and Alualu a chance to get the pass rush turned around.
The position is nothing new for Alualu, who played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme at California.
"I think it works to my strengths: being a bigger body, being able to hold my own against an offensive tackle, being able to hold double teams versus a tight end and just being able to stop the run when I'm out there lined up against defensive end," Alualu said. "I was a D-end in college in the 3-4 scheme, so it's very similar to that."
Alualu has 240 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks in three seasons, failing to meet the expectations that come with being a top-10 pick, especially with a fan base that grew accustomed to seeing former NFL tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud dominate the middle of the line for years.
Maybe Alualu will find more success outside.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press