Samson Ebukam’s NFL career took a few steps forward last weekend – straight to the quarterback.
The former Eastern Washington star made one of the biggest plays in the Los Angeles’ Rams 33-7 win over the Houston Texans, sacking quarterback Tom Savage and forcing a fumble that led to a touchdown.
On 1st-and-10 from Houston’s 25-yard line, Ebukam was left unblocked. He rushed in and plowed into Savage, knocking him down for his first career sack.
“I just took off,” Ebukam said with a laugh in a postgame interview.
“All he knew was that when left open, it was time to attack,” said Ebukam, who didn’t know that Savage had fumbled.
“I was just excited, honestly,” Ebukam told Rams.com. “Everybody got hyped, the whole crowd got hyped and I was just like, ‘Wow, all this hard work I have been putting in, it’s finally paying off somehow.”
Ebukam, a fourth-round draft pick last April who’s playing mostly on special teams, finally saw extensive action at outside linebacker after starter Robert Quinn was out with illness.
By all accounts, Ebukam made the most of the opportunity with the team that also drafted former Eastern wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
“That was big time,” head coach Sean McVay said. “I think these guys have done a great job getting a little bit more time in these last handful of weeks (and) Samson is a guy that continues to demonstrate why we liked him so much coming out of college.”
An All-American defensive end at Eastern last year, Ebukam has worked hard to adjust to playing in space.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed. McVay has praised Ebukam’s work ethic and pass-rushing ability throughout the season for the surprising Rams (7-2).
“He is explosive, he can play in space,” McVay said. “You see how quickly he closes into Savage when he forces that fumble.”
McVay also noted Ebukam’s contribution on special teams, including a block that led to a big punt return by Pharoh Cooper.
Ebukam remains own worst critic.
“There are definitely still things to work on, because there were a couple plays where I had to communicate better with the linebackers and the D-ends,” Ebukam said.
“But every day it’s just a step towards the right path and right now I’m trying to chip away at what I got,” Ebukam said.
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