While the Los Angeles Rams started the 2022 preseason by getting into the win column over the Chargers, there are Ex-Rams who used the weekend to turn loose and show their potential impact in their new uniforms.
But another was a former $2.7 million defender once known for his disruptive speed. And he happens to be someone the Rams will have to likely account for on Friday, August 19 at SoFi Stadium.
‘Menace’ in the Trenches
Ogbonnia “Ogbo” Okoronkwo delivered what Jordan Pun of USA Today’s Texans Wire called a “menace” performance in the trenches in his Houston Texans debut versus the New Orleans Saints.
“Ogbo Okoronkwo (45) was a menace on the Texans DL, finishing with one sack and four pressures on just 14 pass rush reps,” Pun tweeted on Monday, August 15.
The NFL writer and analyst added how “two of his pressures also resulted in sacks for teammates. What a debut.”
Austin Gayle of The Ringer was another left impressed by the former 2018 fifth rounder — saying he had “anything he wanted against Trevor Penning,” who was tasked with keeping the blindside protected from the Texans.
Okoronkwo immediately ignited a fire that the rookie Penning had to immediately put out, and struggled doing so. The fiery rushes “Ogbo” sent up the No. 19 overall pick’s alley resulted in the former Northern Iowa star to be given a 28.6 Pro Football Focus grade against Houston.
Somehow, Penning’s struggles against the former Ram still earned him the highest Pro Football Focus grades among offensive rookies making their preseason debut.
That grade prompted fans, notably this Texans fan on Twitter, to ask “What in the hell were y’all watching.”
Even Andrew Whitworth got vocal about “football grades” and had tweets that were likely directed toward PFF giving Penning a high grade, which was mentioned in this Monday Heavy on Rams story.
‘Ogbo’ With the Rams
Before Von Miller, Okoronkwo was considered one of the faster edge rush options on the Rams defense.
While at the University of Oklahoma, he was one who played with “good aggression and a motor” by draft expert Lance Zierlein of nfl.com. He also flashed “NFL power when it’s time to lock horns.”
His Rams career, however, was marred by injuries. He never started and was mostly used in situational pass rushing schemes. He also never played a full regular season slate. And his best sack totals came last season with the two he delivered. Elbow and shoulder stingers were among the two ailments he had to deal with.
But one of his better outing was against the New York Giants — which showcased the relentless speed and edge threatening nature the Rams selected him for in 2018:
The 27-year-old edge rusher was once on a four-year, $2,734,536 contract by the Rams which eventually expired after the Super Bowl run. The Texans gave him a one-year, $3,250,000 deal during the March free agency period.
Though it was one game and during the preseason, Okoronkwo delivered the kind of impact the Texans are clearly envisioning from him this season in Lovie Smith’s newly revamped 4-3 style defense. “Ogbo” tested the rookie and dominated the solo battle. He also pounced on a muffed snap where if it weren’t for his get-off, he would’ve never been in position to swoop up the ball.
Now, the Rams could be in for some pass blocking game planning in their offensive meetings for the man who wore No. 45 for them before Bobby Wagner claimed the digits.