Cedric Ogbuehi looks on before a game against t at...

Cedric Ogbuehi looks on before a game against t at Lumen Field on Oct. 7, 2021 in Seattle.  Credit: Getty Images

Cedric Ogbuehi was an 18-year-old redshirt freshman in college who sometimes would be thrown onto the field for practice snaps against the starting defense. That’s when the coaches would point across the line of scrimmage, identify the pass rusher and say, perhaps with a bit of a maniacal chuckle: “Block him.”

It generally did not go well, Ogbuehi recalled.

On Sunday, about a decade and change removed from those reps that taught him quite a bit about playing football at a high level, he’ll get another chance.

Ogbuehi will start at right tackle for the Jets. One of his main jobs will be to somehow curtail and contain Bills linebacker Von Miller, the player who dominated him when they were briefly together at Texas A&M.

“That was his last year there so that was the year he went second overall [in the 2011 draft],” Ogbuehi told Newsday on Thursday of the overwhelming challenge at the time. “He was a great player. Still is.”

Miller clearly saw the potential in Ogbuehi, calling him, of all things, “D’Brickashaw Ferguson,” the All-Pro tackle who was in the middle of his great career with the Jets. It’s a coincidence Ogbuehi realized recently as he prepared for this matchup, now representing the same team as his nicknamesake.

“That’s funny,” Ogbuehi said.

Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos and Cedric Ogbuehi...

Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos and Cedric Ogbuehi #70 of the Cincinnati Bengals congratulate each other after the game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Denver defeated Cincinnati 29-17.  Credit: Getty Images

Miller also would give pointers to Ogbuehi during those College Station clashes, helping to develop the young lineman playing behind future first-round picks Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel. Eventually Ogbuehi himself would become a first-rounder, taken by the Bengals in 2015 despite tearing his ACL in his final Texas A&M game and having to miss most of his rookie season.

“I’m sure going against Von helped me as a player,” Ogbuehi said. “It wouldn’t hurt.”

They’ve faced each other twice since then in the NFL, and both times Ogbuehi did a fairly good job against Miller. Or at least it was better than he did in those practices.

In 2016, Ogbuehi’s first healthy year in the pros, he made his third career start against the defending champion Broncos and Miller, the Super Bowl MVP. Miller had one sack and two tackles. The following year they clashed again; Miller was held without a sack but did bat down one pass.

Now they’ll meet again on Sunday, converging in this game from very different places despite their shared beginnings.

Miller is one of the most respected and valued players in the NFL. He was a key ingredient in the Rams’ Super Bowl run a year ago after being traded from Denver to Los Angeles; now he is one of the keys to Buffalo’s attempt to reach the same goal this season after signing a six-year deal with the Bills for $120 million with $51.4 million guaranteed. He has six sacks in seven games.

“Crazy explosiveness on the edge, right?” Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said of the 33-year-old Miller. “He’s not just a third-down guy, he’s not just a sack guy on third down. He can create plays in the run game, can disrupt you in the pass game, even in the quick game. He’s extremely intelligent. You can see where his head is moving, watching the play clock, doing all the things a Hall of Famer is gonna do. He’s added an element they didn’t have a year ago and it has made them even better.”

Ogbuehi, 30, meanwhile, is with the Jets making the league minimum, a little less than a million this year. He was signed off the Texans’ practice squad when injuries and struggles beset the team’s offensive line early in the season and has provided something of a stabilizing presence for the unit.

“He’s come in from Houston’s practice squad and played good football,” general manager Joe Douglas said.

After four years with the Bengals, he had stints with the Jaguars, Seahawks, Ravens and Titans before the Texans and Jets this season. Half of the 60 NFL games he has appeared in have been starts.

Sunday will make it 31, and it will be against a familiar player.

“He has all the tools,” Ogbuehi said of Miller. “Powerful, fast, instinctive. It’s a good challenge. A big challenge.”

Almost as big as it was when he was an 18-year-old freshman.

The Jets are telling Ogbuehi the same thing those Texas A&M coaches did way back in the day, minus the laughter: “Block him.”

He had to figure out how to do it then. He’ll have to figure it out now.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months