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Ogbonnaya focuses on versatility

Posted Jun 9, 2013

Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya has focused on being a versatile player within offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheme.

Cleveland Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya rushed for only 30 yards on eight carries last season, but established himself as a third-down blocker and receiver out of the backfield.

Ogbonnaya, who caught 24 passes for 187 yards in 2012, is looking to bring that versatility to the offense and anywhere else he can contribute.

“(I’m focused on trying) to be versatile, be able to do special teams and play on third downs and wherever they call my number, just to be able to do the job at a high level,” Ogbonnaya told “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford.”

“There’s so many different things that the running backs can do. You’re obviously responsible for running the ball, but also, protecting the quarterback, being able to run routes, getting open and being a part of the passing game.”

It is the same versatility that Ogbonnaya showed that has been noticed by the coaches throughout the offseason workouts and meetings.

“Obie is the kind of guy who is dependable, accountable, you know he is going to be there, and you know he is going to be doing the right things,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “His versatility really is something that will help us.”

To Ogbonnaya, being versatile also includes taking a leadership role on special teams to fill the void left by three of the team’s most tenured veterans, kicker Phil Dawson, return specialist Joshua Cribbs and coverage ace Ray Ventrone, from last year’s squad.

“Special teams is such a crucial part of this game, but for us, we’ve been very good the last few years, and I think it’s important to continue that tradition on special teams,” Ogbonnaya said. “We lost some guys, but guys have to step up and I believe they will.”

Ogbonnaya said the organized team activities, which the team finished two weeks ago, ahead of the end of the offseason program with the mandatory minicamp, are “generally an installation period” where the players learn from the coaches.

Working with running backs coach John Settle and offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been an enjoyable, rewarding experience.

“Coach Set has been fun,” Ogbonnaya said. “He’s also a guy that’s played previously in the league and has had some NFL experience. Like GB (running backs coach Gary Brown) last year, it’s always good to have a coach that has had that experience because you can relate to them, and they can relate to you a lot better. He coaches us very hard, and has very high expectations, and we’re going to have to live up to those.

“Norv has had a lot of success at this level, so he definitely wants perfect execution. You see how important it is when you do things. If you run a little bit too deep, you can cross paths with a receiver and it can mess things up. Just being on the same page, everybody has to be there at the right depth and the timing has to be right.”

Ogbonnaya combined with Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson for 1,305 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last fall. Although they have competed against each other for carries in practice, Ogbonnaya said the mood in the running backs room has “been good,” which he feels is something that will benefit the team in the long run.

“I think you see that there’s a lot of maturity,” Ogbonnaya said. “For the guys across the board, we’re such a young team. I think we’ve been doing a good job of learning those types of things.

“It’s unique in the sense that everybody’s competing for one job, but it doesn’t really feel like that. I think everybody complements one another, and B-Jack, Montario, Trent and Owen (Marecic were) here last year. It’s gone very well and I think that we have a lot of lofty expectations for ourselves, and we plan on living up to those and being a very solid group this year.”

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