Emmanuel Ogbah

AFC North Notes: Eifert, Browns, DeCastro

Despite being one of the NFL’s biggest injury risks, Tyler Eifert returned to the Bengals this offseason. The team that used a first-round pick on the former Notre Dame tight end has a plan for trying to prevent another significant setback, though. The Bengals are going to try to limit Eifert’s snaps, Marvin Lewis said (via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Since Eifert’s Pro Bowl 2015 season, he’s played in only 11 games. With Eifert being most effective in the red zone (20 career touchdown receptions, 19 from inside the 20, per Dehner), that will surely be a place the Bengals try to deploy the sixth-year pass-catcher. But Lewis identifies Eifert as the team’s best blocking tight end, too. Eifert averaged 58 snaps per game during the 2015 season. Lewis doesn’t envision his starting tight end getting there again.

Well I hope he never gets 50,” Lewis said. “It’s a plan thing. There are certain things (OC Bill Lazor) is going to plan to do with him on the field, both runs and passes. I think that and then using him as a decoy at times to help open up other things for the other guys.”

This plan may limit Eifert financially. He has $3MM tied up in performance incentives, ones that will become difficult to reach if the Bengals place heavy restrictions on his usage. He played 23 snaps against the Colts.

Here’s the latest from the AFC North:

  • Emmanuel Ogbah‘s run into injury trouble again. Hue Jackson didn’t believe the third-year edge defender suffered a high ankle sprain but said (via ohio.com’s Nate Ulrich) it was “something like that” and that Ogbah will miss time. Chris Smith entered the fray as Myles Garrett‘s sidekick following Ogbah’s first-quarter injury and should be expected to start Sunday against the Saints. Recent waiver claim Anthony Zettel should have a role, too, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. Ogbah saw a foot injury halt his momentum last year and end his season. His development was part of the reason the Browns selected Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb.
  • The Browns‘ left tackle position contributed to several NFL news cycles this offseason, due to Joe Thomas‘ retirement and the layered search for his replacement. But Jackson insists no change will commence between Week 1 and Week 2. Desmond Harrison will remain the Browns’ left tackle, per Jackson (via the Lorain Morning Journal’s Jeff Schudel, on Twitter). The rookie UDFA made the start, despite Greg Robinson and 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett residing on the roster. Pro Football Focus graded Harrison as the second-worst full-time tackle in his debut, and Rotoworld’s Evan Silva adds (on Twitter) Harrison allowed the most hurries of any lineman last week.
  • Kenneth Dixon suffered a knee injury in the Ravens‘ blowout win in Buffalo, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects (Twitter link) it to keep him out for several weeks. Dixon scored a touchdown against the Bills after missing the entire 2017 season. Buck Allen should move into the role of Alex Collins‘ backup for the time being.
  • David DeCastro fractured his hand on Sunday, and Mike Tomlin said this could limit him going forward. But the veteran Steelers blocker expects to play Sunday against the Chiefs, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

AFC North Notes: Browns, Burns, Ravens

Both of the Browns‘ first-round picks have endured a fair amount of scrutiny, with Baker Mayfield making a borderline-unthinkable rise during the pre-draft process and Bradley Chubb remaining on the board after No. 4. The Browns’ issues in coverage last season prompted the Denzel Ward pick. So did a belief third-year edge defender Emmanuel Ogbah can be a quality Myles Garrett sidekick. DC Gregg Williams is seeing Ogbah, a 2016 second-rounder who suffered a broken foot last season, validate the Browns’ thought process thus far this offseason.

I’m so excited to see how well (Ogbah’s) doing out here this year,” Williams said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “He’s night and day more relaxed and doing things more instinctively, not overthinking and not as afraid to make a mistake as he was last year because we moved him into a new position. Knock on wood, staying healthy, he’s going to really stand out this year.”

Here’s the latest from Cleveland and other AFC North cities.

  • A new addition to the Browns’ defensive end room expected to be a member of Cleveland’s defensive end rotation behind Garrett and Ogbah, UFA signee Chris Smith will likely be used as an interior pass rusher. “He can play inside; he can play outside; he brings a lot of energy to the room,” Browns defensive line coach Clyde Simmons said, via Cabot. “He’s got a high motor and I think it’s going to be great competition.” Smith joins third-round pick Chad Thomas and previous Browns draftees Carl Nassib and Nate Orchard. Though, Smith is pretty much a roster lock since he signed a three-year, $14MM contract that would cost the Browns to shed this year. So, Nassib and Orchard could be vying for one spot.
  • Other than Ryan Shazier, the Steelers have not possessed an open-and-shut case for exercising a fifth-year option in a while. They passed on Jarvis Jones‘ and picked up Bud Dupree‘s, doing so despite the 2015 first-rounder’s inconsistency. However, with Artie Burns‘ decision coming up in May, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sees another difficult call coming. Burns has not established himself as a surefire member of the Steelers’ core but is expected to be a starter again opposite Joe Haden. This season figures to be pivotal for the Miami product’s future.
  • The Ravens are moving Vince Mayle from tight end to wide receiver, Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun notes. This comes as Baltimore’s wideout room looks more crowded with possible roster cogs than it did last season. With Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown borderline locks for the 53-man unit, the Ravens will have some choices to make at preseason’s end. A 2015 Browns pick, Mayle played in 16 games with the 2017 Ravens. Third-year backup Chris Moore may not see much receiver time, per Lee, who adds fourth- and fifth-round rookies Jaleel Scott (New Mexico State) and Jordan Lasley (UCLA) aren’t locks to make the roster. Though, the Ravens will surely give them every opportunity to do so and it’s a fairly safe bet the rookies will be on the Week 1 roster. The Ravens’ wideouts averaged a league-low 8.9 yards per catch last season.

Extra Points: Beckham, Luck, Browns, Hawks

On Day 1 of the true NFL offseason, here’s the latest, beginning with a difference from Odell Beckham Jr.‘s 2017 situation in which the Giants’ star pass-catcher currently finds himself.

  • Beckham hasn’t joined 2014 draft-class peers Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald and Taylor Lewan in holding out. He showed up for Giants minicamp and said he would be there for training camp. His standing in the organization may be on the rise, too. One new Giants coach told SI.com’s Albert Breer that Beckham “has been awesome” to the new personnel in the building. Breer said the perennial Pro Bowl wideout will have more people in the organization going to bat for him during these negotiations than was the case last year. The talks, though, aren’t progressing at this point.
  • This offseason’s gone much more smoothly for Andrew Luck than his initial post-shoulder surgery months did. Breer notes the Colts quarterback made it about 5 1/2 months in 2017 before enduring setbacks, ones that ultimately erased his ’17 season. Now, Luck is throwing again, having privately participated in a post-minicamp workout Friday, per Breer. While Luck still has some significant obstacles to navigate, the Colts’ new coaching staff isn’t concerned about his timeline. The team, though, will give Luck days off during training camp, Breer reports, and organize his reps like they’d be distributed during the regular season.
  • One reason the Browns opted for Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb, who they had rated alongside one another on the non-quarterback sector of their draft board: a belief in third-year defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. A Sashi Brown-era investment, Ogbah played well before breaking his foot last November. The new-look Browns are high on Ogbah having a strong season opposite Myles Garrett, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com notes.
  • Byron Maxwell‘s enjoyed an up-and-down career, but as of now, he’s the favorite to start opposite Shaquill Griffin for the Seahawks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes. He will be playing the same spot he did in Super Bowl XLIX, right cornerback, after the team moved Griffin to Richard Sherman‘s old left corner position. Maxwell’s experience on the right side was one of the reasons the Seahawks relocated Griffin, Pete Carroll said.
  • Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal is eligible for the supplemental draft, and ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter already posited he could be the highest-drafted player in this summer event since Josh Gordon went in the 2012 second round. Scouts have also raved about Beal, with Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reporting evaluators he spoke to assigned a first-round grade to the defender. While this grade was contingent on his entering the regular 2019 draft, a team figures to give up one of its 2019 selections in order to draft Beal in the supplemental event. Offensive lineman Isaiah Battle was the last player chosen in the supplemental draft; the Rams used a fifth-round pick on him in 2015.

AFC Notes: Jags, Lewis, Lynch, Ogbah

The Jaguars have shocked the NFL after starting the year 7-3, thanks in large part to their outstanding defense. But while that side of the ball has deservingly gotten a lot of the credit for their success, there’s another interesting aspect of their front office that had contributed to the team’s sudden rise to the top of the AFC South, opines Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

As a part of his Friday column, the veteran reporter made note of the expanded use of analytics in the team’s decision making process because of the department headed up by Jacksonville’s owner’s son, Tony Khan. Khan’s group supplements the work done by Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone through more advanced statistical and technological methods, something that isn’t as rampant in the NFL as with other sports, like basketball or baseball.

However, Breer pointed out the Jaguars have used data in their decision to keep their offense on the field a full 10 percent more times on fourth down than last season, as well in their acquisitions of running back Corey Grant and saftey Jarrod Wilson, who have each made big plays over the course of the season. Breer’s article provides an interesting look at another aspect of perhaps the league’s most surprising team through some pretty cool examples of more analytical evaluation when making football decisions.

  • Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured head coach with one franchise in the league today, ranking right behind Bill Belichick. It’s a notable comparison as the Pats head coach has been able to win multiple Super Bowls with New Engalnd, while the Bengals have not won a single playoff game under Lewis’ leadership. However, the 59-year-old has maintained a number of crucial relationships throughout the league that has helped him fight through a lot of criticism, opines Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Terrell mentions the likes Hue Jackson, Dirk Koetter, Bill Cowher, Mike Zimmer, Vance Joseph and Jay Gruden as guys who the Bengals head coach considers some of his closest friends in the league. Obviously, Cincinnati has had it’s tough moments under the guise of Lewis, but this piece shows just why he has survived as a head coach in this league for so long, despite the lack of playoff success.
  • Marshawn Lynch has never really gotten things going with the Raiders this season, but offensive coordinator Todd Downing mentioned after practice on Friday that he wants to “feed” the veteran running back this Sunday vs. the Broncos, reports Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. Head coach Jack Del Rio echoed that sentiment after the team’s final practice this week. “Could be a little more,” Del Rio said of Lynch’s workload. “Like to push him, get him a little more.” Lynch has consistently managed single-digit carries with his new team, but it appears that the coaching staff is on board in wanting to get the former All-pro more involved in the Raiders offense in the weeks ahead.
  • In some good injury news, Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah tweeted out a photo this afternoon showing that he had a successful surgery on the foot he broke during the team’s game last Sunday vs. the Jaguars. The 24-year-old was having a solid sophomore campaign up until the injury, but it’s certainly great news that his recovery has gotten off to a good start.

 

Browns DE Emmanuel Ogbah Out For Year

Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah suffered a broken foot in today’s loss to the Jaguars, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Ogbah will miss the remainder of the season with the injury, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.Emmanuel Ogbah (Vertical)

With their winless record still intact, the Browns clearly aren’t heading to the postseason, so Ogbah’s injury won’t have playoff implications. But it will deprive Cleveland of a young, successful defender who has only improved since entering the league as a second-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2016.

Ogbah, 24, had been playing on roughly three-quarters of the Browns’ defensive snaps this season, and had graded as the NFL’s No. 66 edge defender among 110 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. His 73.3 overall grade was a major step up on his 2016 mark of 47.8, and Ogbah had been excellent against the run through 11 weeks.

Other members of Cleveland’s defensive line — which ranks an impressive second in adjusted line yards — will be forced to step up given Ogbah’s absence. Nate Orchard and Carl Nassib could be asked to play more snaps at defensive end opposite No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Jackson, Coleman, Ogbah

Compared to the management strategies of most of their NFL contemporaries, the Bengals have shown considerable patience with Marvin Lewis. He’s entering Year 15 in Cincinnati in search of the franchise’s first playoff win in 26 years. But a scenario where Lewis is gone by 2018 opens the door for speculation about the revival of the Hue Jackson succession plan that once existed in the Queen City. The Browns brought Jackson in to shepherd one of the league’s most memorable rebuilding efforts after the aforementioned Cincinnati plan never materialized, but the franchise having shown little patience with coaches since rebooting opens the door to questions about if Jackson would take over the Bengals next year if given the opportunity. The AFC North crew at ESPN.com’s NFL Nation is not buying into it, however.

Jeremy Fowler acknowledges it’s an intriguing proposition and said Jackson would be “foolish” not to consider it, but he expects the former Bengals OC to stay in Cleveland. This is all contingent on the new Browns front office showing patience and not firing Jackson, and Katherine Terrell notes this opportunity probably doesn’t come to fruition, writing that the Jackson-replaces-Lewis window closed after he ventured to northeast Ohio.

Here’s the latest from Cleveland.

  • The Browns made a first-round investment in Cameron Erving in 2015, but it hasn’t worked out as the team hoped. J.C. Tretter signed and will take over at center, and the Browns shuttled Erving to right tackle. But he might not be the leader in the clubhouse to take over there. Second-year tackle Shon Coleman looks like the frontrunner to start here come training camp, Dan Labbe of cleveland.com notes. With teams are increasingly putting top pass rushers across from right tackles, Labbe writes this position battle could throw a wrench in the major financial commitment the Browns made to fortifying the interior of their line this offseason. A 2016 third-rounder out of Auburn, Coleman played in seven games but started none as a rookie. Erving started at left tackle for two full seasons at Florida State before moving inside and entering the NFL at center. Erving finished last season at right tackle, and this forthcoming battle with Coleman figures to be a key point in his career.
  • Now that Myles Garrett is in the fold, Carl Nassib looks like a second-unit player, per Labbe. Defensive line coach Clyde Simmons recently referred to Emmanuel Ogbah as a “classic left end,” which points to the 2016 second-rounder having a natural spot there in Cleveland’s new 4-3 look opposite the more pass-rushing-geared Garrett. Nassib, a third-round choice, would compete for time behind them. That might not be as open and shut as it seems, with Desmond Bryant and Nate Orchard stationed at end as well. Bryant also could fit as a tackle, having played both with the Raiders. The 6-foot-7 Nassib recorded 2.5 sacks last season.
  • Joe Schobert started four games in Ray Horton‘s 3-4 scheme as a rookie, but Gregg Williams‘ 4-3 look might not have much room for the linebacker. Now that the Browns are going to play more nickel sets, Schobert won’t be seeing much time since cornerstone ‘backers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey will function in those roles. Labbe writes that Schobert’s primary role this season will be on special teams.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Shazier, Harrison

Myles Garrett‘s recent trouble with left leg maladies returned this week, with the Browns announcing the No. 1 overall pick sprained his left foot. Although he’s expected to be ready for training camp in just more than five weeks, the fact that Garrett’s junior season at Texas A&M was interrupted by left ankle trouble is not a good sign. But the Browns have invested heavily in their edge rushers over the past few years.

The Browns have some additional options at defensive end this season to supplement Garrett, with recent draft picks now firmly stationed there. Whereas the team moved Emmanuel Ogbah from outside linebacker to end in the team’s previous 3-4 scheme last season, the 2016 second-round pick is a more natural 4-3 end, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com notes. This applies to 2016 third-rounder Carl Nassib as well, with Nate Orchard now lining up there too. Prior to becoming a 3-4 outside ‘backer with the Browns after being taken in the 2015 second round, Orchard registered 18.5 sacks at Utah as a senior while at end.

Cleveland’s defensive end contingent also features Desmond Bryant, who is returning from a torn pectoral muscle that erased his 2016 season. Bryant has not played 4-3 end since he was with the Raiders, and he also saw time as a defensive tackle with the Silver and Black. The 31-year-old Bryant would be a good bet to be one of the players the Browns could shift to tackle in sub-packages.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • Had Ryan Shazier been a second-round pick in 2014 instead of going in the first, he would be entering a contract year. But the Steelers picked up the inside linebacker’s fifth-year option in April to tie him to the team through 2018. Shazier is not on board with this setup. “Yeah, that kind of sucks,” Shazier said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, of the system that can tie first-rounders to their rookie deals for five years. “Sometimes guys have to wait five years. Other guys don’t. But that’s what they agreed on in the past. Next time (during CBA negotiations) we’ve just got to do a better job of structuring what we want to do.” Also weighing in on the positions 2014 draft class mates Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald are in, Shazier said rookies should have the opportunity to renegotiate their deals before they accrue three years of service time. “At the end of the day, that’s between you and the team. If the team wants to do that, it’s great,” Shazier said. “… If you play at that level, you should be able to re-up whenever you want to.” Shazier is signed through 2018, with a guaranteed-against-injury ’18 salary of $8.78MM set.
  • It doesn’t sound like James Harrison will be going through a regular training camp. The Steelers know what they have in the 39-year-old veteran, and he knows the team’s system. In minicamp, Pittsburgh gave the league’s oldest defender freedom to prepare on his own, giving his reps to first-rounder T.J. Watt, per Fowler. Notorious for conducting unusual workouts in the offseason, Harrison enters his 14th Steelers season. Fowler notes Harrison will work participate in 11-on-11 drills on some days but will be excused during others. “It’s good for the young guys to get the reps,” linebackers coach Joey Porter said at minicamp. “Right now, we’re not going to ask him to do a whole lot. The defense is learning, getting comfortable.”
  • It’s looking more like the latest hip injury Dennis Pitta suffered, one that led to the Ravens releasing the longtime tight end, will end his career.

Browns, Desmond Bryant Discussing 2016 Payment

Desmond Bryant will miss the season due to the torn pectoral muscle he sustained while working out in between the Browns’ minicamp and training camp, but the team and the defensive end’s agent are discussing if he’ll be paid in 2016, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports.

Since Bryant injured the muscle in New York and not at the Browns’ facility, the Browns do not have to pay him any of his would-be $6MM base salary for 2016 since they placed him on the non-football injury list. But this negotiation’s outcome could have a wide-ranging impact, Schefter adds, since Bryant was working out to stay in shape on his own time, as players are expected to.

Bryant confirmed, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, agent Drew Rosenhaus is meeting with the Browns about paying him a portion of his salary even though they do not have to do so. The 30-year-old defensive end could also be released, with the eight-year veteran telling Cabot the Browns “have a decision to make.”

Cabot notes Bryant parted ways with previous agent Andy Simms and hired Rosenhaus to handle this negotiation. Rosenhaus also represents Joe Haden and Josh Gordon, among other Browns.

A projected starter for a Cleveland team that will now rely on second- and third-round picks Emmanuel Ogbah (who is now working at defensive end and outside linebacker after previously focusing on the latter role) and Carl Nassib on the edge more, Bryant is due a $7MM base salary in 2017 as part of the five-year, $34MM deal he signed in 2013. Bryant led Cleveland with six sacks last season.

The rebuilding Browns would save $7MM by cutting him. If Bryant is not released, Cabot expects the Browns to ask him to take a pay cut in advance of the ’17 season since he’ll be 31 and coming off a severe injury.

The Browns, per Cabot, are “working through it” and attempting to find a resolution. If that ends in Bryant not being paid, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk would advise the Browns’ other players to avoid working out between the end of the ’17 offseason program and training camp, considering the optics of penalizing a player for doing so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Pick Signings: Browns, Texans

Today’s draft pick signings:

  • The Browns announced that they have signed second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah. The deal is worth $6.6MM (including a $3MM signing bonus) over four years. The six-foot-four linebacker earned the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year last season, and he compiled 28 sacks during his three-year tenure at Oklahoma State. With the signing, the Browns have now signed half of their record 14 draft picks.
  • The Texans announced the signing of third-round wide receiver Braxton Miller. Miller began his Ohio State career as the team’s starting quarterback but transitioned over to the wide receiver position in 2015. Last year, Miller caught 26 passes for 341 yards and three scores across 13 games. He also rushed for 260 yards off of 42 carries.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Browns Rumors: RG3, McCown, Nassib, Trades

Although the Browns paid a high-end backup price for Robert Griffin III at two years and $15MM, the team signed the wayward quarterback with the intention he could be their long-term option.

Our plan would be for Robert, if it carries out, to come in, solidify himself and then, if we felt like he’s our answer longer-term, to begin working on a longer-term deal,” GM Sashi Brown told media — including Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “... He’s just 26 years old and he wants to play for a long time. He provides that upside, if he’s able to come in and do what’s first, which is establish himself as a starter and a capable starter for us.”

Cleveland’s brass is not ready to hand the starting job to Griffin right now, with Josh McCown still in the mix and third-round pick Cody Kessler likely a developmental option. But the Browns are at least paying lip service to the fact the 2012 offensive rookie of the year can resurrect his career for a team that’s had the worst run at quarterback since re-spawning in 1999.

Here’s more coming out of Cleveland.

  • Despite Griffin’s signing cosmetically looking like it leaves McCown without a place on a rebuilding team, the 36-year-old passer remains a threat to keep his starting job, per Ulrich. The Browns would also consider keeping him if he doesn’t. “[We want to] have him come in and compete to be our starter,” Brown said. “Josh has been a great presence for our young guys in the locker room, and that QB room is enhanced by his presence. I think [keeping him even if he doesn’t win the starting job will] be a consideration.” Amid the disastrous Johnny Manziel experiment that cycled in and out of the huddle last season, McCown completed 63.7% of his passes and threw 12 touchdown passes compared to four interceptions despite being saddled with one of the league’s worst pass-catching contingents. McCown is owed just more than $5MM this season, the last year of his contract, and the Browns would carry $2.33MM in dead money if they cut him. Of course, with more than $41MM in cap space right now, the Browns aren’t exactly geared toward 2016 contention.
  • One of the Browns’ Day 2 picks, Carl Nassib, caused the new GM to make a lofty comparison. Brown said the 6-foot-7 former Penn State pass-rusher has “as good of a motor, if not better, than Joey Bosa,” per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). The Vince Lombardi Award winner after registering a Division I-FBS-best 15.5 sacks for the Nittany Lions last year, Nassib out-produced Bosa last season. But the Ohio State pass-rusher collected 26 sacks in three seasons and recorded 51 tackles for loss in that span, giving the former Buckeye a much more consistent resume.
  • Although there isn’t much of a way to disprove this, Brown said Emmanuel Ogbah was the top player the Browns hoped would still be there when they picked at No. 32 (via Ulrich, on Twitter). As a junior at Oklahoma State, Ogbah finished tied for fourth nationally last season with 13 sacks.
  • Brown also challenged those who questioned the team’s pick of Princeton tight end Seth DeValve in the fourth round, telling media (including Ulrich, on Twitter) that they won’t be second-guessing the selection for long.