Buffalo Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel hopes to get well acquainted with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller on Sunday. But Schobel will have to figure out how to get around the 6-foot-9, 345-pound wall that protects Boller.
Perennial All-Pro Jonathan Ogden is considered to be the best offensive tackle in the NFL. His imposing presence presents Schobel with the greatest challenge of his young career.
"He's good. There's no question about it," Schobel said. "He's huge. He can move. It's going to be a challenge, but I've got something to prove."
The Bills generate a pass rush with various schemes, but they believe Schobel is developing into the kind of player who can be a consistently disruptive force.
The 6-4, 262-pound Schobel has held his own against some good offensive tackles, but Ogden will provide the ultimate test.
He is a dominant blocker who engulfs defensive linemen with his size. He has long arms, exceptional mobility and upper body strength and plays with great leverage.
Although Schobel is being paid like a premier defensive end (he signed a $23 million extension before the season), he has yet to gain league-wide notoriety.
But a strong performance against Ogden would definitely get people's attention.
"If you want to be the best you've got to play against the best, and Jonathan Ogden is as good as it gets in this league," Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said. "I remember when I was in Tennessee, Ogden was one of the best going against our right defensive end, Kenny Holmes, and then Jevon Kearse. If Aaron keeps playing, he'll be in that category. But to get there you have to beat the best."
Sacks were hard to come by for Schobel at the start of the season. When he was shut out the first three games, some team observers wondered if the Bills were getting their money's worth. But he has recorded 3 1/2 sacks the past two games, including 2 1/2 in the Bills' 20-13 win over Miami last week.
Schobel wasn't worried about his slow start. He never doubted his ability to get to the quarterback. Besides, he didn't have a sack three games into last season and still finished with a career-high 11 1/2 .
"They do come like that," he said. "You never know how or which way they're going to happen. But as long as you keep going and playing hard, they will come."
Schobel has always been bothered by the fact that a defensive end's performance is measured by how many sacks he gets. But getting consistent pressure can be just as effective in forcing quarterbacks into making mistakes.
Gray thinks Schobel has done that.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence," Gray said. "What people don't understand is people put their best offensive tackle on their quarterback's blind side, so when you can get sacks over there you deserve them. He tried so hard the first couple of weeks because the expectation is, 'I've got to get a sack every week.' I could kind of tell he was disappointed, but he never stopped working.
"Look, you're not always going to beat your man. What we try to tell Aaron is keep the pressure going because you can get some coverage sacks, too. Just be relentless, and that's the best thing about guys like Aaron. He's going to give you 110 percent no matter what, and you've got to be proud of that."
As expected, injured center Trey Teague (leg) will not play Sunday. Coach Mike Mularkey officially ruled Teague out Friday after he didn't practice for the third straight day.
Running back Travis Henry (foot) and offensive tackle Jonas Jennings (ankle) practiced again Friday and will play. Cornerback Troy Vincent (knee) worked out on a stationary bike and quarterback J.P. Losman (leg) threw during 7-on-7 drills. Both are out for Sunday's game.