Larry Ogunjobi heard each of the rumors and saw all the news.
First, the Browns expressed heavy interest in signing Gerald McCoy. Then, they brought in Mike Daniels for a visit a day after he was released by the Green Bay Packers.
Both were defensive tackles, and both left the Browns headquarters without a contract. McCoy eventually signed with the Carolina Panthers, and Daniels joined the Detroit Lions on Friday after he visited the Browns on Thursday.
The Browns were on the hunt for a defensive tackle with a better resume than Ogunjobi, but that didn’t stun the third-year veteran. Instead, he viewed it as motivation to improve on his 5.5 sacks from last season and make the most of what’s already a star-studded defensive line.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said Sunday as he shrugged his shoulder. “My goal is always to be the best at what I do. I don’t care who comes in. If anything, it makes you want to work even harder. I know what I want to do and the trajectory I want to go in.”
That trajectory should go up with the offseason additions of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and defensive end Olivier Vernon. Richardson registered 4.5 sacks and 49 tackles with the Minnesota Vikings last year and should complement Ogunjobi well in defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ 4-3 scheme.
Check out photos from the fourth day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey
Vernon and defensive end Myles Garrett, a one-two punch that combined for 20.5 sacks last season, will require plenty of attention from offensive lineman, too. Ogunjobi should see wider lanes to the quarterback, and a breakout season could be in sight.
Ogunjobi must connect with Richardson the most, however, and so far, that connection has looked strong. It’s tough to gauge how successful a defensive line will be when it can’t touch the quarterback, but the duo has forced quarterback Baker Mayfield into plenty of scrambles so far in camp.
If Ogunjobi and Richardson aren’t taking reps, they’re usually talking — and sometimes dancing — on the sidelines. When Ogunjobi was asked to characterize Richardson in one word, he paused, looked up and spent a few seconds pondering his reply.
“Loud,” Ogunjobi said with a smile. “That’s a good one. He’s very energetic, just a veteran. He has that understanding to the game. It just makes it cool. He brings that level headedness, that ‘Come on, relax and just play.’”
That connection could change quickly, though. General manager John Dorsey might be 0-for-2 in his quest to sign another veteran defensive tackle that could replace Ogunjobi for the starting job, but all it takes is another defensive tackle to hit the market and put Ogunjobi’s spot in jeopardy again.
Ogunjobi won’t be fazed if that happens. He might not have gaudy numbers like the other Browns linemen, but he’s shown plenty of promise with them in training camp, and the possibility of another defensive tackle on the roster won’t change that.
“I feel like the sky’s the limit,” Ogunjobi said. “I just got to keep working hard, mastering my craft and continuing to do the little things each and every day.”
The annual Orange & Brown Scrimmage will take place on August 3rd at FirstEnergy Stadium.Click for information and tickets.