Adewale Ogunleye wants it all. The nine-year veteran defensive end wants to play solid all game long. And, once a game, he also wants to make a big splash.
Adewale Ogunleye wants it all.
The nine-year veteran defensive end wants to play solid all game long. And, once a game, he also wants to make a big splash.
He made two in Chicago’s season opener, tackling Joseph Addai for a safety and throwing Dominic Rhodes for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1 at midfield in the Bears’ 29-13 upset of the Colts last Sunday.
“Every season, I want to start off quick,” said Ogunleye, the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. “Now I want to continue on. Every game, I want to make a big play. Hopefully, the next game I will do the same thing.”
Ogunleye knows defensive linemen can be overlooked all game, then become the star with one well-timed big play.
“Dusty Dvoracek and Israel Idonije might not get the accolades because all they do is their job the whole game,” Ogunleye said of Chicago’s two lesser-known defensive tackles who alternate with Pro Bowler Tommie Harris. “One big play brings the spotlight to you. Sometimes it’s deserved. Sometimes it’s not.
It’s crazy, but that’s football. That’s the nature of the sport. You know one play can change the whole game.”
A knack for big plays is why the Bears traded a conditional draft pick and Pro Bowl receiver Marty Booker for Ogunleye, then signed him to a six-year, $33.4 million contract. Ogunleye had 24.5 sacks the previous two years in Miami.
He has been quieter in Chicago, averaging 7.5 sacks in four seasons. But that doesn’t mean he’s been any less effective. He forced six fumbles last year, double his total in any previous season, and also tied his career high with three fumble recoveries. He also had nine sacks, four tackles for loss and 70 tackles.
He opened the 2008 season with three tackles for loss in the first game.
“He sets the pace,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Not just what he says, but what he does on the football field, practice and all. He’s one of those model veterans you want on your football team having an influence on the rest of your team. That’s a good football player.”
Not a pass rusher. A football player.
“He rushed the passer well, but most linemen want to rush the passer,” Smith said. “He played the run exceptionally well. We need that type of effort.”
The NFL’s highest-paid and most-decorated defensive ends — Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, Jason Taylor — tend to be sack specialists. Chicago ends Alex Brown and Ogunleye are less flashy, but also solid against the run.
“I’m complete,” Ogunleye said. “I can play the run. I can play the pass. I pride myself in not being one-dimensional. You can’t run the ball on me. And, on passing downs, I’m going to get after the quarterback, too. I’m just a complete defensive end.”
Being complete includes making a big splash at a critical time.
“In this next game, I want to have three, four sacks,” Ogunleye said. “That’s what we look at in this league.
“But if I can just help this team win and at the end of the day we win the Super Bowl, that’s what I want.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or email@example.com.