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Ogbonnaya: 'It's hit or get hit'

Posted Aug 10, 2013

During his transition to fullback, Chris Ogbonnaya has learned that it is better to give hits than it is to receive them.

“It is better to give than receive.”

That is a lesson generations of parents have taught their children. The same can be applied in terms of handing out hits in the game of football.

At least, that is the opinion of Cleveland Browns fullback Chris Ogbonnaya.

On the Browns’ second possession of their 27-19 preseason win over St. Louis last Thursday, Ogbonnaya was in the backfield on first-and-10 from the Rams’ 35-yard line. St. Louis sent middle linebacker James Laurinaitis on a run blitz in search of Dion Lewis, but he was knocked off course, and off his feet, by an Ogbonnaya block.

“This game is hit or be hit,” Ogbonnaya said. “For me, I didn’t really want to be hit, and I had to create a hole for our running back to run through. That’s the nature of the job. I just looked at it as, ‘This is a run-down blitz that they’re going to bring, and I need to meet him.’

“We made some decent plays out there as a group, but at the same time, we’ve got to understand that it’s the first preseason game. We’re a work-in-progress, and we’re going to continue to work on our craft, continue to grow, and hope to be more consistent.”

Ogbonnaya’s block on Laurinaitis impressed first-year coach Rob Chudzinski.

“Obie did a nice job,” Chudzinski said. “His versatility is a good thing for us. He’s learning and improving the angles as a blocker, and being able to execute the blocks and the techniques when you get guys live, it’s a little bit different than working on the bags. Cut blocking, with his athleticism, will be a good tool for him to use.”

Having spent the last two years working primarily in the third-down running back role, Ogbonnaya is no stranger to picking up blocks.

And when he was not catching 47 passes for 352 yards out of the backfield, Ogbonnaya was charged with helping in pass protection.

“You learn to protect,” Ogbonnaya said. “You learn to pick up blitzes, and I take a lot of pride in being able to do that, and catch the football. For me, it’s just one of those things. You want to combine all of those different abilities and talents that you’ve been blessed with and try to put them into one position.”

Working hard and growing into a system is what Ogbonnaya has done since joining the Rams in 2009, but never has it helped him more than this offseason. After re-signing with the Browns, Ogbonnaya met with the coaches, where he was informed of their decision to test him at fullback.

Moving from running back to fullback was an opportunity for the diligent Ogbonnaya to prove that he is willing to do “whatever I can do to help the team win.”

“I’ve been blessed to play this game,” Ogbonnaya said. “This is my fifth year, and it’s always been a privilege to play, not a right. I always look at it in the sense of, ‘How can I help our team?’ Last year, I was able to play a little bit of fullback in particular packages, so the transition has been somewhat smooth. I’m just going to continue to work on it.

“If you understand what the running back is supposed to do within our offense, it doesn’t make the fullback job as hard to do. There’s a physical component of it, but playing running back is physically demanding. For me, it’s making sure that I’m consistent, continue to work on the little things, and hopefully, continue to grow within this offense.”