Chis Ogbonnaya is a running back for the St. Louis Rams. He was drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL draft. Played his college ball at the University of Texas, where he was part of the 2005 National Championship team that beat USC.
With training camp winding down, Chris is locked in a heated battle to back-up Steven Jackson on the depth chart. With all that going on, he was able to find some time to answer a few questions.
Would you be up for doing Hard Knocks, Rams edition?
I’ve watched an episode-I don’t know man, I think it would be different with the Rams. It’s an interesting experience from those I’ve talked to who have done it in the past. It’s part of the NFL and part of being an NFL athlete. I wouldn’t be opposed to it because I don’t see it intrusive or intruding or anything like that.
Of all the coaches you’ve played for, who’s been the most vocal? Who gets your attention?
It really depends on the situation. When our coaches need our attention, they get our attention. I guess the most vocal would be back in college, Will Muschamp- the defensive coordinator during my last year at the University of Texas. He’s the type of guy who never shies away from anything. He always lets you know what was on his mind. Even though I never played defense, he really did a nice job of preparing me mentally for the next level.
How vocal is rookie QB Sam Bradford in the huddle? Is he afraid to call someone out?
No, Sam does a nice job. He’s a rookie, like I was last year. He leads with his actions. He’s not in a position where he’s tenured, but he’s comfortable and he does a great job. Playing Sam in college for the few years I did, I’m able to joke about how I beat him at Oklahoma a few times.
How would you compare the leadership styles of Vince Young and Sam Bradford?
I had been following Vince for 2 years before I was on the team. I really looked up to him and was able to learn a lot from being around him. It’s different when you have known somebody for so long. Sam is a rookie but his leadership skills are beyond where he should be. Sam and Vince have both shown to be excellent leaders at the NFL level.
You played in the 2005 National Title game against USC. How do you feel about the news of Reggie Bush taking money from boosters?
At that time, and even right now, I don’t know the facts of what went on at USC. So without knowing exactly what happened, it’s hard for me to comment. But what I can comment on is that going into that game we knew we were lining up against an incredibly talented team and obviously Reggie is and was a great player. Even though I was only a freshman, it’s a day and a game that I will never forget.
You’ve seen Sam Bradford from day 1 in the NFL, what has impressed you the most about his game?
How comfortable he’s been. He’s done a nice job of picking up the offense, as have all of our QB’s. He’s going to continue to get better because he is a good football player. That’s undeniable. He is very critical of himself. He wants to be successful. It’s a nice trait to have as a football player and key for a leader.
What do you see as the biggest challenge the Rams will face this season?
I think it would be to remain consistent and discipline in what our coaches are telling us, and to trust it. We are on the right page, doing the right things. We work so hard at everything that we deserve to do well. The way we prepare puts us in a good position to play well. We just need to come prepared every single day.
Late in the 3rd quarter of the New England game you made a great block that was key to the Thad Lewis to Brandon Gibson touchdown. What goes through your mind when you are the QB’s last line of defense?
For me, I pride myself in being able to protect the quarterback. I did that at the University of Texas. You have to understand how the defense is lined up, look at safety rotation or what have you, and make the correct read for the quarterback, fullback or whoever is back there with you. On that specific play with the type of blitz they were bringing, I know that if we give Thad, or Sam enough time, they will be able to complete the pass and give the receiver the opportunity to win 1 on 1.
Hardest hit you’ve ever taken?
Hmm… the hardest hit I’ve ever taken. I would have to go back to college, the spring going into my freshman year when I had just started playing running back. I caught a little swing pass and was laid out by Ced(ric) Griffin, who is a starting corner for the Minnesota Vikings. That hit, to this day, always reminds me to keep my pads up.
Donnie Avery’s out for the season. You’ve played some receiver at Texas. Would you be willing to line up at WR if called upon?
It’s been tough because Donnie and I are very close, growing up in Houston and all. But absolutely, if I needed to do so and the opportunity presented itself for me to help out in that capacity I would definitely be open to it. We have a lot of talented guys, many of us, me included, don’t have a ton of NFL experience but we do have guys with great ability who just need a chance to step up. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when opportunity presents itself, somebody must stand up. Someone will have to fill in for Donnie but it’s really unfortunate since he is such a great player.
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, what do you think you need to do to lock up the backup RB spot?
I would say that I need to remain consistent and show up to practice and games with a great attitude. And to continue to work on my leadership role, even though I am a young guy I think that me being vocal helps the team a lot. Just continuing to work every day at doing my job and helping others do theirs.
Thanks for reading. Check back Wednesday for a preview of the preseason finale.
Follow Chris on twitter @ChrisOgbonnaya
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About the Author
Written by Bear Heiser
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