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Training Camp

Emmanuel Ogbah could offer Browns defense 'flexibility' at DE

Emmanuel Ogbah got the phone call three days before training camp. On the other end was defensive line coach Robert Nunn, who told Ogbah he'd be moving from outside linebacker to defensive end to start training camp upon the news veteran DE Desmond Bryant would be lost for the season.

And Ogbah, whom the Browns drafted with the No. 32 overall pick this past spring, didn't flinch.

"I came here with a mindset that I'm just ready to do whatever they ask me, that's the mindset coming in," he said. "Whether it's outside linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, nose, I'm ready to go."

After all, Ogbah played end at Oklahoma State and his unusual combination of size and speed landed him a spot in Cleveland's outside linebackers room.  After totaling 26.5 sacks with the Cowboys, the 2015 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year could play a role in helping bolster the Browns defense and, in particular, its ability to chase down opposing quarterbacks.

Before any of that can happen, though, Ogbah finds himself learning the finer points of a not-so-new position and what it takes to play it in the NFL. He must also master the nuances of playing end in a 3-4 defense compared to Oklahoma State's 4-3.

"It's a huge difference because typically as a 3-4 defensive end, you're in a read-and-react mode where you're reading the offensive tackle in front of you and you're kind of mirroring what he does. You're two-gapping," said veteran left tackle Joe Thomas, who has seen his fair share of opposing ends and different defensive schemes. "A 4-3 defensive end, really your job is to get up field and disrupt things."

But Thomas played down the difference between the two techniques, saying the transition from college to the league is the biggest adjustment Ogbah — or any rookie — has to make.

Take a look at the first day of Browns Training Camp, which took place Friday in Berea.

"It's vastly different but the college game is vastly different than the NFL game," he said.

"Even if he was playing 4-3 defensive end in college and the NFL, it's going to be so different and there's going to be so much of an adjustment that I don't think there's more of an adjustment moving from 4-3 D-end to 3-4 D-end as just 4-3 to 4-3. It's just a huge adjustment in the NFL anyways."

Linebacker Demario Davis said Ogbah looks natural on the line "because he played in college with his hand in the dirt."

"From what I've seen," he added, "he's tremendous with his hands, he's a big guy. He'll do good up there." 

The loss of Bryant, who underwent pectoral surgery earlier this month, means the Browns will have to find a way to replace the production of their 2015 sack leader. Coach Hue Jackson and others have described his departure from the starting lineup as a significant one, but there might be a silver lining.

Ogbah, who spent the summer trying to master dropping back into coverage as an outside backer, could give the Browns an intriguing option on defense with such versatility.

"As a matter of fact, really it might give us some flexibility that way because he did do it all spring, that if he is playing defensive end there are some other packages that we give (defensive coordinator) Coach Ray Horton – the mad scientist that comes up with all this stuff – where we can drop Ogbah off from a lot of different places,"Jackson said.

"I'm excited about the possibility. It's early, the first day in camp. We're just trying to get a feel for things that he can do to help our team."

Ogbah added, "Coach Hue says he wants the best players to play the game, so I'm just ready to do whatever they want me to do."

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