Once again, the Browns find themselves with a key injury early in the season with #90 Emmanuel Ogbah. While the Browns are reporting that Ogbah will miss some time due to his ankle injury, others have reported seeing him in a high walking boot. This leads to speculation that #90 may have a high ankle sprain, an injury that could require up to 6 weeks to heal.
The Browns released Carl Nassib during the 53-man roster cuts. This leaves the newly-signed veteran #50 Chris Smith as that “next man up.” During preseason #50 logged 127 snaps and finished with a PFF overall grade of 55.3. While that grade in itself is less than ideal, what did stand out was his tackling grade of 67.4 and run defensive grade of 72.3. His preseason game against the Bills started poorly, but was able to recover and finish strong.
During the week 1 game against the Steelers, Smith logged a total of 58 snaps, so he at least has in-game experience with Greg Williams’s defense, should his number be called. The Browns do have other options, though: third-round draft choice #92 Chad Thomas, newly-signed #97 Anthony Zettel, and #91 Ifeadi Odenigbo (that’s Oh-Den-Oh-Bo for those of you keeping track at home).
Zettel brings much of the same skill set as Nassib, and would be mostly used in rotation. The most intriguing of the group is Odenigbo. #91 was with the Minnesota Vikings for all of this preseason, as he was elevated from the 2017 practice squad. During his 4-game stretch with the Vikings, Ifeadi Odenigbo played for a total of 111 snaps and finished with a PFF overall grade of 72.8. With a total of eight pressures, five hits, one hurry, and two sacks, most in the NFL media found it surprising he was released.
Ifeadi, a 24-year-old, 6’3 258-pound defensive end born in Bayonne, New Jersey, played his high school football at Centerville High School, right here in Ohio. Ifeadi then went on to Northwestern college and played very well. In four short years, Ifeadi racked up 61 total tackles and 25.5 sacks (wow).
One sign that I like to see from players coming out of college is improvement each year and Ifeadi was able to do that. Being that he spent a year on the Vikings practice squad, and played that many snaps in preseason, I believe that Ifeadi will be ready to take the next step in his NFL journey.
The Browns will be facing the Saints in week 2, coming off a devastating defeat by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Going over the numbers, the Saints have a weak link in the offensive line with Larry Warford at right guard and Ryan Ramczyk at right tackle. This will give the Browns an advantage with both positions for either Smith or Odenigbo.
For the Browns to slow down Drew Brees they will need to get pressure quickly as he doesn’t hold on to the ball for long. With the Saints weak on the right side, Myles Garrett on the left, and Ogunjobi applying pressure up the middle, the Browns could see another top defensive performance from the front four again this Sunday.