Odrick’s role in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s complex defense is multi-faceted and integral to the success of the entire unit. On the surface, the 6-foot-5, 302-pound Pennsylvania native will be asked to build on his six sacks from a year ago and be one of the main pass rushing threats opposite Pro Bowler Cam Wake.
As simple as that sounds, rushing the quarterback is just a minute portion of Odrick’s responsibilities. He wants so badly to be able to explain in detail to fans and critics outside of the team facility what exactly it is that he does in the trenches, but he knows ultimately what he puts on paper in terms of statistics (tackles, sacks, etc.) is what means more to them.
“You don’t want to put a ceiling on anything you’re going to do and my big thing has always been I really don’t try to tell people my goals or aspirations,” said Odrick, who started the first game of his rookie campaign at Buffalo only to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury. “It’s a matter of making an impact on the game and putting your print on every snap. My position that I’m playing this year is an all-around position.
“There are times where I’m two-gapping, there are times where I’m playing a one-gap technique, there are times where I’m over the top of a tight end, there are times where I’m over the top of a guard, there are times where I’m over the top of a tackle and there are times where I’m over the top of the center. In this defense the position I’m playing is kind of like a jack of all trades and I’m going to have to wear a lot of different hats this year and be asked to do a lot of things.”
Without revealing too many trade secrets, Odrick elaborated by explaining how in addition to making plays it’s his job to help other people make plays. On some downs Odrick will be asked to fill a gap so that Wake or someone else can come around the edge and get to the quarterback and on other downs he’ll need to fill another gap on a running play so that the linebackers can limit the gain.
Back in college at Penn State, Odrick earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009 as a defensive tackle for the Nittany Lions. He finished his four-year career with 104 tackles (47 solo), 14.5 sacks and 25,5 tackles for loss. It was there where he honed his skills as the consummate defensive lineman capable of being equally as effective against the run and the pass and now he’s teaching those tactics to rookies
“Those guys (Odrick, Wake and the other veterans) have been nothing but help for me,” Shelby said. “Those guys are guys that’ll help back you up, give you little hints of things that they’ve noticed and what to look for. They’re able to give you little bits of knowledge and you just try and pull all of that together with what you see.”
Odrick loves to talk football, which is why being in the room with young bucks like Vernon and Shelby energizes him. So if there is one goal he has not shared but has made it pretty easy to figure out it’s to help broaden the fans’ understanding of the job of a defensive lineman.
To hear Odrick break down plays and their results in the context of how he and his teammates on the defensive line are graded by the coaching staff is a revelation. By the time he is done talking, there is no doubt how serious he is about his profession and his status in the eyes of Head Coach Joe Philbin, Coyle and the rest of the defensive coaches.
“There are so many different techniques within a game and I think the average fan thinks that up front we just bang into each other or run around each other. Those are the only two options that we have,” Odrick said. “So you either knock somebody over or you run around them because you’ve got speed and there’s so much more that goes into it now.
“If I step inside on a play when I’m getting reached but I make a tackle for a loss for five yards, the whole place goes crazy and I’m celebrating with them. But when I go back to that grading room, that’s a minus instead of a plus because I got reached on that play. There are so many things that go into it, like if I didn’t take a 45-degree step but I took a 90-degree lateral step, it’s a minus. There are a lot of moving parts and that’s what this team is focusing on.”
Team comes first for Odrick, but if he does his job well, Year Three will go into the books as a successful one for him.