BEREA — Chris Ogbonnaya has become the jack-of-all-trades in the Browns backfield.
The 6-foot, 225-pounder spent his first three NFL seasons at running back, but has been named Cleveland’s first-team fullback by coach Rob Chudzinski.
Ogbonnaya also will continue to play on special teams, where he first carved his spot in the league with the Houston Texans, and figures to see plenty of snaps in one-back sets on third down.
“My biggest thing has always been to try and get on the field in some sort of capacity, and this staff has allowed me the opportunity to do that in a lot of ways,” Ogbonnaya said Thursday.
“It’s always exciting to play, but to have an expanded role and do a lot of things, that’s what every player works hard for the opportunity to do.”
Ogbonnaya will make his first NFL start at fullback Sunday when the Browns host the Miami Dolphins in their season opener.
Though his expected workload appears to be heavy, perhaps too much so, neither Ogbonnaya nor his coaches are concerned about him wearing down.
“Our strength and conditioning coaches have been putting a plan together for me since the spring, when the coaches told me what they were thinking about doing,” he said. “I’m a little sore because I’m doing a lot more blocking, but outside of that, I’m really fine.”
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner, whose system utilizes a hybrid, pass-catching fullback, believes Ogbonnaya was built for his new role alongside Trent Richardson.
“Ogbonnaya is going to have to take some of the pressure off Trent, that’s the most important thing,” Turner said. “Some of what we do with him will depend on where Trent is in terms of conditioning and how many carries he is getting, but Oby is ready to do it.”
Ogbonnaya admits being unsure of one thing heading into the season: Exactly what position he is playing, in terms of conventional NFL descriptions.
“It just depends on the play called,” he said. “If I’m in with Trent, I might be the fullback. If not, I might be the tailback. Or I might be something else because Coach Turner has so many ideas.
“Every year, you have to reinvent yourself in this league. I believe I’ve done that because I’ll still be playing special teams, along with being on offense, no matter what you want to call me.”
Guard Shawn Lauvao (left ankle surgery) was the only member of the Browns not practicing. Defensive end Desmond Bryant (back spasms), outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) and cornerback Buster Skrine (shoulder) were limited. Bryant said he plans on playing against Miami. Wide receiver Davone Bess (knee), tight end Jordan Cameron (groin), linebackers Eric Martin (foot) and Jabaal Sheard (illness) and cornerback Chris Owens (foot) took part in all team drills.
Dolphins quarterback Pat Devlin (ankle) and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor (groin) and Will Davis (toe) did not practice. Tight end Dion Sims (groin) was limited. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), who was waived by then-Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur late last season, was a full participant.
Ogbonnaya threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday at the Indians/Orioles game. Tribe outfielder Drew Stubbs, one of his close friends at the University of Texas, served as his catcher.
• Guard Jason Pinkston was presented with a balloon bouquet for his 26th birthday by offensive line coach George Warhop. The bouquet, which had an orange and brown theme, included a large football.
• Linebacker Craig Robertson attended the Mentor Lake Catholic at Strongsville prep football game in Week 1. He said he enjoyed chatting with Mustangs defensive coordinator (and former Browns linebacker) Antwan Peek.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.