It’s safe to say that Cleveland Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya has had a good couple of weeks. He rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries against the St. Louis Rams and, most recently, rushed for 115 yards on 21 carries to help lead the team to a 14-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty out with injuries, Ogbonnaya is certainly making the most of his opportunity in the spotlight. What is most impressive, so far, is his ability to close out games. The major chunks of his yardage have been coming late in games, which is a good sign. He appears to be a workhorse back, capable of wearing down a defense throughout a game.
Despite these impressive performances, Browns fans need to temper their expectations for a player like Ogbonnaya. Far too often have the Browns caught lightning in a bottle with a running back for a short period of time, only to see him falter in the long run. Those players include, but are certainly not limited to, Jerome Harrison, Lee Suggs, and yes, even Peyton Hillis.
It’s hard to make a real judgment of Ogbonnaya, though, as he’s only been in Cleveland for four weeks and Montario Hardesty looks close to making a return to the lineup. Ogbonnaya will be relegated to back-up duty when Hardesty returns, which doesn’t spell doom for his season, but it’s hard to imagine him making much of an impact next season, even if Hillis doesn’t return. And that’s a scenario in which Ogbonnaya even manages to make the team next year.
This shouldn’t take away from the fact that Ogbonnaya is one of the few offensive players who have helped save the Browns’ season. While the offense is still, at times, a train wreck, it’s hard to even fathom how much worse it could have been in the last few weeks without him.
Chris Ogbonnaya could be that diamond-in-the-rough player, emerging out of nowhere to lead the Browns’ rushing attack in the future. If Peyton Hillis could come out of nowhere to do it, there’s certainly a chance for Ogbonnaya. It would certainly be a major sigh of relief for the Browns, who might have big problems at running back come next season.