MIAMI GARDENS — Emmanuel Ogbah was asked to recall the last quarterback he sacked.
“Was it Herbert?” Ogbah said Thursday, during a quiet moment in the Dolphins locker room.
No, it was not this week’s opponent, Justin Herbert.
It was Mac Jones. In the season opener last year.
Does that feel like a long time?
“Hell, yeah,” Ogbah said. “It’s been a whole year.”
Ogbah was rewarded with a four-year, $65 million contract after he posted back-to-back nine-sack seasons for Miami in 2020 and 2021.
This year, no Dolphin counts more against Miami’s salary cap than Ogbah, at $17.2 million.
And yet in a locker room with stars and future stars like Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Terron Armstead, Christian Wilkins, Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland, Ogbah seems entirely overlooked.
Rarely approached recently, though extremely approachable, Ogbah seems a forgotten man.
“Yeah, you know it happens,” Ogbah said when the forgotten man concept was broached. “It doesn’t matter because I know what I’m capable of.”
Ogbah was a pass-rush terror as a defensive end in the Brian Flores system. He piled up sacks and nobody in the NFL batted down more quarterback passes.
But he had only one sack in a nine-game, injury-marred 2022.
And now it’s entirely unknown how or if he’ll fit into the Vic Fangio defense that debuts for Miami on Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Right now, I’m learning how to do different things,” Ogbah said. “Especially rushing from the two-point stance.”
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Ogbah is Miami’s lightest defensive lineman. But he’s also Miami’s heaviest linebacker.
“It pretty much is a ‘tweener,'” Ogbah said. “I can play inside and outside. I can move easily and I can also set an edge.”
But right now, Ogbah, 29, is also a second-stringer.
On the depth chart, Miami’s $65 million man is listed behind linebacker Jaelan Phillips.
“I believe I’m going to play enough snaps that it doesn’t matter,” Ogbah said. “I’m looking forward to Week 1, to see how I’m being used.”
The Dolphins have not yet extended defensive lineman Christian Wilkins. They have extended Zach Sieler, who comes in at a more price-conscious number.
Ogbah is smart enough to know that Miami may move on from him with two years left on his deal. After this season, the club could release him with only a $4 million in dead cap and $15.8 million in cap savings.
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Even though many fans view players like Ogbah through both the prisms of production and contract, the pass rusher isn’t overly concerned about the latter.
“I don’t look at it like that,” Ogbah said.” I look at it like, I earned the money. I earned it.”
In 2020 and 2021, Ogbah totaled 18 sacks, 17 passes defended, four forced fumbles, 15 tackles for loss and 45 quarterback hits.
Last season, Ogbah had one sack, zero passes defended, zero forced fumbles, one tackle for loss and seven quarterback hits.
It was a lost season for a player who had been entirely dominant for long stretches over two excellent seasons.
It will be fascinating to see if Ogbah can rebound in a new position, which is primarily outside linebacker.
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Ogbah noted he’s been working closely with outside linebackers coach Ryan Slowik.
Slowik, it turns out, was with the Browns when Ogbah was a second-round pick in 2016.
Ogbah had 5.5 sacks as a rookie, but in general, his Cleveland career was considered a bit disappointing.
If Ogbah can make just a handful of plays similar to the ones he made in his first two years as a Dolphin, his corner of the locker room won’t stay so quiet.
In 2020, Ogbah sacked Herbert in a Dolphins victory. Doing it again on Sunday would be a good start to what figures to be a pivotal season.
“He’s definitely a big quarterback,” Ogbah recalled. “I think I got him by the ankle. But, yeah, he’s big. So you’ve got to bring it.”
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Joe Schad is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at email@example.com and follow him on social media platforms @schadjoe. Sign up for Joe’s free weekly Dolphins Pulse Newsletter. Help support our work by subscribing.