The Miami Dolphins were crushed by injuries throughout the 2022 season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. While the main focus was on the secondary, where cornerbacks and safeties seemed to be dropping nearly every week, the team lost a huge piece to their pass rush in Week 10 when defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah sustained a torn triceps muscle and was lost for the remainder of the season. On Tuesday, Ogbah met with the media, saying he is ready to return to the field.
“[Recovery]’s going good. They’re taking it easy on me during camp but I’ve been fully cleared and I am ready to go,” the 2016 second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns said to the Miami media. Since joining the Dolphins in 2020, after one season with the Kansas City Chiefs in which he and the team won the Super Bowl, Ogbah had appeared in every game until his injury last year. He led the team with nine sacks in each of the 2020 and in 2021 seasons, playing on both sides of the defensive line.
In 2023, Ogbah is expecting to move all around the defense, playing in multiple positions under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “Right now, I’m still trying to learn all of the plays, different spots and trying to learn the different schemes that he uses,” Ogbah said of the changes coming to Miami’s defense. “I’m excited for him. He’s a great defensive mind and coach. I’m just excited to do my part to help this team win.”
He continued, “Like I said, I’m still learning this new defense, so I’m going to be pretty much across the whole d-line. So standing, inside, outside, it’s whatever. I’ll be doing whatever.”
The Dolphins are expected to continue to use their base 3-4 scheme, but Fangio’s system is not as blitz-heavy as previous systems. Having a healthy Ogbah to team with defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, defensive end Zach Sieler, linebacker Jaelan Phillips, linebacker Bradley Chubb, and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel as edge rushers who could be lining up in multiple places could allow the team to limit the blitz packages, adding more players into the coverage or run-stuffing scheme.
“Just learning different schemes that you’re not entirely used to, it just creates a lot of challenges,” Ogbah explained when asked about being responsible to play in multiple positions and with multiple responsibilities. “For the offense, it also creates challenges because they don’t know where I’ll be at. But having to learn multiple positions, it’s a challenge but I’m well-equipped to do it. I’m versatile and it’s a different scheme, so I can adapt quickly on any scheme you present to me.”
Ogbah, Phillips, Wilkins, and Chubb were only able to play one game together last year - Chubb was an in-season trade acquisition for Miami - before Ogbah’s injury. “It’s big,” Ogbah said of being able to get everyone healthy and on the field together. “We’re all obviously a talented bunch. I’m excited. I’m sure Vic (Fangio) is going to draw up some packages that will have us in there. I’m excited about this new defense that we’ve got going. Unfortunately, I know I got hurt last year, so we didn’t get to see all of what we can do on the field together. But it’s a new season and I’m excited about it.”
During the offseason, Ogbah joined the NFL Africa camp, spending a week in Kenya. He said of the trip, “It was an amazing experience. We got a chance to coach up some football talent down there. We had different players from different parts of the continent trying out. We had to teach them how to play football in like two days, then they would go through Combine testing afterwards. It was an amazing experience and how quickly they wanted to learn about the game. They view it as a big opportunity for them and they’re excited just to learn from us players. There were only five of us that were there. It was cool.”
He continued, explaining what he took away from the opportunity, “Just being grateful for the whole experience. Those kids didn’t have much but they still want to listen and learn and take coaching from us. They don’t have football there. Just being able to inspire them, a kid like me – I was born in Nigeria and I came here when I was nine, so they can kind of see similar parts. I was excited just to be there. They absorbed my knowledge and want to learn.”
As for the talent on the African continent and if football could thrive there, Ogbah seemed optimistic that it could and will. “It definitely would. There’s definitely a lot of raw talent,” he stated. “Obviously they didn’t know what they were doing and we had two days to coach them up, which was tough. But they picked it up really quick. I would say this, if you give them just a couple of months just to teach them actual football basics, they would pick it up quick. You’d be surprised how quickly they learn the game of football.”
Ogbah also discussed his upcoming football camp, saying, “I’m excited. I have it every year. I’m excited about it. I talk to the kids, encourage them, talk about my trip to Africa and try to inspire them. Just showing those kids, they don’t have much, but they have more than them. They have football here and those kids don’t have football. So kind of just inspiring them and see how they take it.”
Miami is currently in phase two of their offseason training program, with players able to start getting onto the practice field. The workouts are limited to individual or group instruction and drills, “prefect play” drills, and walk-throughs with the offense and defense lining up against themselves (no offense versus defense work). No live contact is allowed in phase two.
Phase three begins next week and will include Organized Team Activities on May 22-23, May 25, May 30-31, and June 2. All of these events are voluntary ahead of the mandatory minicamp on June 6-8. Ogbah likely will continue to be brought along slowly through the offseason program before ramping him up during the team’s training camp starting in late July.