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Vobora Steps Into Starting Role

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  • Vobora Steps Into Starting Role

    Vobora Steps Into Starting Role
    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Officially, linebacker David Vobora’s reign as Mr. Irrelevant ended this year when the Kansas City Chiefs selected kicker Ryan Succop with the final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.

    Vobora probably erased any doubt when he made the start at middle linebacker on Nov. 30 of last season against Miami. But any lingering suspicion was erased Thursday afternoon when Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo named Vobora the team’s starting strong side linebacker for this week’s opener in Seattle.

    “We hope this year in 2009, he’s Mr. Relevant,” defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. “Only time will tell but again he’s done a good job. I am pleased he is getting an opportunity to show what he can do. I’m sure he is too. Hopefully he will just take it and run.”

    Vobora’s promotion comes on the same day the Rams parted ways with incumbent Chris Draft. The Rams released Draft earlier on Thursday morning but the opportunity for Vobora to make his impression has long since been in the making.

    Way back in the organized team activities and minicamps in the spring, Vobora was part of a combination with fellow linebacker Larry Grant working at the strong side position.

    As rookie James Laurinaitis got acclimated with the NFL game and worked with the second team in the middle, Draft worked with the starters and Vobora took turns with Grant on the outside, literally trading days working with the first team.

    While Laurinaitis earned the starting job early in camp, Vobora continued to make a strong impression on the coaches.

    “David has really been doing a heck of a job,” Spagnuolo said. “He had stepped up there; there was a chance that would happen anyway. David will step right in there and hopefully we won’t skip a beat.”

    Upon his arrival as head coach in St. Louis, Spagnuolo had talked about how there were plenty of opportunities for young players to prove themselves.

    And one way to catch the coach’s eye was evident from the very beginning. Any player with the versatility to play multiple positions would be given a long look by the coaching staff.

    “He’s one of those guys and I have said this about a lot of guys with the versatility, he’s played some MIC and he’s been out there playing outside linebacker,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s picked both up pretty good, he’s understanding the system and he’s made plays. So you slide him over there to SAM and hopefully he’ll continue to make plays.”

    Vobora spent most of his time at the University of Idaho playing weak side linebacker but also made starts in the middle. When he arrived in St. Louis last year, Vobora spent his time bouncing among the three positions.

    When injuries struck during the season, Vobora’s role on special teams expanded to his first career start at middle linebacker.

    In that game against the Dolphins, Vobora made 10 tackles and became the first Mr. Irrelevant to start a game since linebacker Marty Moore did it in New England in 1994.

    This preseason, Vobora has worked plenty on the strong side, including a stint with the first group in the third preseason game against Cincinnati, and then jumped into the middle linebacker spot with the backup groups.

    “Coach talks a lot about the next play,” Vobora said. “You take it one step at a time and just focus on this practice, this next game, this next rep. Whether you are the SAM or MIC, I try to focus on separating the two because if you get too locked into one you start to deteriorate with the other. So for me, I just try to take it one step at a time and luckily it led to good things.”

    If you ask anybody about what Vobora brings to the table, the first word that usually comes up is physical.

    At 6’1 and nearly 240 pounds, Vobora can pack a wallop when he hits and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in to make a play.

    In the preseason, he racked up eight tackles and a sack and chipped in with six additional stops on special teams.

    “I think being the SAM backer you have to be physical in this league and that’s what I am going to try to bring on Sunday and continue to make plays when the opportunity comes,” Vobora said.

    Although it’s not his first NFL start in a regular season, there’s no doubting that the opportunity coming Sunday will be a special one for Vobora.

    The University of Idaho, Vobora’s alma mater, will be in Seattle to play the University of Washington on Saturday afternoon. That game will likely be over by the time the Rams touch down in the Pacific Northwest but that doesn’t mean that Vobora won’t get the chance to play in front of some familiar faces.

    “There will be some Vandals in the stands cheering for the Rams,” Vobora said. “There’s a bunch of them that are going to stay and I have got some guys I played with and people from college along with my family will be there.”

    Having some friends and family in the stands will be helpful for Vobora as Seattle’s Qwest Field is a notoriously tough place to play. Of course, one of Vobora’s assignments will be to cover talented Seattle tight end John Carlson, also.

    In the year plus he’s been in the league, though, Vobora has done more than shed the “irrelevant” label. He believes he’s learned plenty of things that have made him a more accomplished player to get him to this point.

    “I see things a lot clearer,” Vobora said. “Being able to play two positions will help me a lot also, understanding how people are trying to attack you. I can definitely say I am a lot better.”

  • #2
    Re: Vobora Steps Into Starting Role

    From what I can remember, he was good in that Dolphins game and whenever used before that. If he can continue to improve, he should end up being a solid LB for years to come.


    • #3
      Re: Vobora Steps Into Starting Role

      Let's hope so, Keenum. :helmet: I'm with you.

      Wouldn't it be just absolutely ... madness ... to go from a so-called 'Mr. Irrelevant' (including his grin and fun oriented ways), to being starter on the 1st game of the season, to ... well, we'll have to wait and see. But I'm proud of Vobora's odd career thus far, albeit a very early one. One thing we know for sure is that he'll be trying his darnest to do a good job.

      :ram: Who would have guessed?


      • #4
        Re: Vobora Steps Into Starting Role

        Was doing a bit more research on DV (Darth Vader?) and found this old news article; old as in over a year ago, during the NFL 2008 draft! But wanted to share the note nevertheless:

        Vobora is a sleeper pick, according to Todd McShay.
        Welcome to The Show! On Monday, NFL prospect and former Idaho LB David Vobora will stop by to chat about the NFL draft and his time with the Vandals.
        Vobora led Idaho in tackles last season with 148, which ranked fifth in the country. He was also third in the country with 12.3 tackles per game. It marked the second straight year that Vobora led the WAC in tackles.

        Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay names Vobora as a potential sleeper pick in the draft.

        According to Vobora's Scouts Inc.'s draft profile, Vobora "didn't miss a game in his Vandals career. He's smart, tenacious and just athletic enough to develop into an effective reserve linebacker who also contributes on special teams. Stays disciplined and rarely gets caught out of position. Has special teams experience and should make immediate contributions in that facet of the game. Team captain during senior season and is a leader on the field."


        Related Topics


        • RamFan_Til_I_Die
          Vobora now seen as relevant for Rams
          by RamFan_Til_I_Die
          By Bill Coats

          A year ago at this time, Rams linebacker David Vobora was irrelevant, as in "Mr. Irrelevant," the last player taken in the draft. On the afternoon of April 26, Vobora relinquished that title to former South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop, a Kansas City Chiefs selection in the final spot this year.

          Vobora acknowledged experiencing mixed feelings: He's not unhappy to jettison what some might regard as an ignominious label, but he conceded that he "had a blast" during the Irrelevant Week festivities last June in Newport Beach, Calif.

          "And you know what? (The distinction helped) get me here," Vobora said. "So, I'm proud to have been Mr. Irrelevant."

          Vobora and Chris Chamberlain came to town last year under nearly identical circumstances: Both were linebackers, both were seventh-round draft picks (Chamberlain at No. 228 overall, Vobora at No. 252), both were assigned to the same room at the team hotel during spring workouts, and both faced stiff odds of landing roster spots.

          "We definitely got close through that, helping each other learn the defense and sticking together as seventh-rounders," Vobora said this week during organized team activities at Rams Park.

          "It was fun, helping each other study, quizzing each other, asking each other questions," Chamberlain added. "It was pretty special for us both to be able to make the team and contribute last year."

          Chamberlain, a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder from the University of Tulsa, and Vobora, a 6-1, 238-pound Idaho product, no longer room together — Chamberlain married Amy Wilcox, his high school sweetheart from tiny Bethany, Okla., in March. "But I still try to sneak over there and get some dinner at their house — when she's cooking," Vobora quipped.

          And yet their circumstances haven't changed all that much: Both of them are battling to keep the jobs they earned last year.

          "This year, it's a whole new deal. I'm out here fighting for my spot, like everyone else is," Chamberlain said. "Whether it be on special teams or being able to help on defense, I just want to contribute and hopefully earn one of those 53 jobs."

          During the offseason, the Rams lost two linebackers — Pisa Tinoisamoa was released and Gary Stills wasn't re-signed — and gained second-round draft pick James Laurinaitis. They also brought in undrafted rookies Dominic Douglas and K.C. Asiodu.

          Will Witherspoon moves to weakside linebacker, with Laurinaitis expected to take over in the middle, at Witherspoon's former spot. Versatile veteran Chris Draft is penciled in on the strong side, but the Rams like having him available to back up all three positions.

          So the competition for the third starting job "is a wide-open...
          -05-29-2009, 08:05 AM
        • RamWraith
          David Vobora taking it to the next level
          by RamWraith
          Going against the odds;

          By Jerome Hubbard
          Special to

          It is one thing to silence all the doubters but it is another to go against the odds and St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora is doing just that. Deemed as “Mr. Irrelevant,” Vobora was the last pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, 252 overall and, according to the history, not supposed to make the team.

          “Mr. Irrelevant” has not made an NFL roster since 2000 but Vobora ended that streak this year when he made the Rams’ final roster. For some that would be an honor or a privilege but for Vobora it was just another stepping stone in a journey that has seen him silence doubters and critics on a consistent basis.

          “My whole career I have been told that I was good but not good enough to play at the next level,” Vobora said. “That was what I heard in middle school, when I played varsity, in college, and now in the pros. I have always had doubters.”

          David Vobora grew up in a football family. His dad played at the University of Oregon. When David was younger, not only did he play linebacker but he also played quarterback and defensive end.

          “I played a diverse number of positions,” Vobora said. “I always played quarterback but they never wanted the quarterback to play defense. In high school, I convinced my coaches to let me play on defense and the varsity coach saw that and gave me an opportunity to play linebacker my junior and senior year.”

          When it was time to choose a college, David did not have a lot of options. He was not offered a scholarship from the state’s Division 1 power houses, Oregon or Oregon State, nor was he offered a scholarship from any other PAC 10 school. But despite the lack of interest, Vobora always wanted to play at the highest level so when the University of Idaho offered him a full scholarship to play football, he jumped at the opportunity.

          “Coming out of high school I had a lot of Division 1AA offers; I went to Idaho and got an opportunity to develop.” Vobora said. “I got an opportunity to play and I made some plays.”

          Vobora’s collegiate career was defined by a series of events. Throughout his time in college, the football team only won nine games, coaches were in and out, and players came and went. One Vobora most remembers and continues to hold close to his heart was the loss of a teammate and friend to gun violence during Vobora’s freshmen year.

          Eric McMillan was a true freshman who played cornerback for the university and, according to Vobora, had a great future. McMillan was a hardt worker and served as a mentor for Vobora when David first came to college but one day after an altercation in a night club, Eric McMillan was shot and killed. Vobora was so shocked and devastated; he contemplated quitting and dropping out of school.

          “I can remember sitting in the dorms and thinking that this isn’t for...
          -11-12-2008, 04:33 AM
        • MauiRam
          Vobora works to regain spot, clear name ..
          by MauiRam
          BY BILL COATS

          To say the Rams' David Vobora has had an eventful year would be akin to saying the Gulf of Mexico has a small oil problem. Since training camp last year, Vobora:

          — Earned a starting job at strongside linebacker to begin his second NFL season.

          — Was suspended for four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, costing him $90,588 in salary.

          — Regained his first-team assignment after being reinstated.
          Click here to find out more!

          — Filed a suit in federal court against the company that provided the tainted workout supplement.

          — Was demoted after the Rams signed free-agent linebacker Na'il Diggs and assigned him to the top strongside spot.

          Throughout it all, Vobora has remained resolutely philosophical.

          "My whole football career, from high school on into the pros, I kind of feel like I've sort of been behind the 8-ball. It's been an uphill battle," he said. "But I wouldn't want it any other way. That's what I'm all about, proving people wrong. And that's what I've got to do again."

          In the courtroom, Vobora wants to prove that he wasn't at fault. His agent said that before taking the tainted supplement, Vobora called an NFL hot line, read off the ingredients, and was told that none would produce a positive test.

          Although he's seeking compensation for the salary he forfeited, Vobora stressed that money isn't the motivating factor. Clearing his name is.

          "Vindication's the No. 1 thing," he said. "Lost wages is lost wages."

          On the field, Vobora wants to prove that he's still worthy of a starting role, regardless of the competition from Diggs or anyone else. "My approach stays the same: no matter who that guy is, beat him," he said.

          Vobora has overcome long odds before. He was the 2008 draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" — the last player among 252 selected. The University of Idaho product stuck with the club, on the practice squad at first.

          He moved up to the 53-man active roster in October and wound up playing in eight games, with one start. He won a first-team spot in training camp last year and was among the Rams' leaders in tackles after the first three games.

          Then came the suspension, keeping him out of action until mid-November. Now, he's battling again to carve out a role for himself. He's been working mostly at middle linebacker this spring, behind James Laurinaitis.

          "He's settled in and kind of concentrated just at 'mike' linebacker," coach Steve Spagnuolo noted. "But I think any of the so-called backup linebackers have to be able to play more than one (position). So somewhere along the way you'll see him play some outside linebacker, too."...
          -06-17-2010, 08:32 AM
        • RamsInfiniti
          David Vobora could be one answer on the outside ...
          by RamsInfiniti
          All the Rams recent draft failures aside, it seems that one potential diamond in the rough could be last year's Mr. Irrelevant David Vobora ...

          Vobora started the season strong with nice outings in the first two games of the season, only to be setback by his suspension ...

          He has again played fairly strong football the past three weeks. Vobora has a motor that doesn't stop. While this does cause him to overpursue on occasion, I have noticed that Vobora has a knack for finding his way into the opposing backfield. He has 5 tackles for loss in 8 games, and another 4 tackles resulting in a runner being stopped for no gain. Vobora is a great wrap-up tackler, and rarely lets a ball carrier get free when in the grasp ...

          Vobora does need to improve in coverage, where he has been average, but by no means a liability ...

          Overall, Vobora has been doing a very solid job in my opinion. He's a tough nosed hard hitting player who could definitely figure into the future as a starting LB here ....

          J. Lau and Vobora, paired with a very fast, rangy LB on the weakside, along with a wide body up front, could be a very solid group for us in the future ...
          -12-08-2009, 06:25 AM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Linebackers Look To Fill Void
          by r8rh8rmike
          Linebackers Look to Fill Void
          By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

          As they prepared to take their places with the first team defense at the strong and weak side linebacker positions in Wednesday’s practice, David Vobora and Chris Chamberlain couldn’t help but think about how far they’d come since they entered the league as seventh round draft choices nearly three seasons ago.

          “We actually got a laugh in pre-practice about that today,” Vobora said. “We came in as seventh rounders together and we both have focused on working and making the most of our opportunities. That’s what we will try to continue to do.”

          After placing injured starting strong side linebacker Na’il Diggs on injured reserve Tuesday, the Rams promoted David Nixon from the practice squad to fill the void.

          In the process, the Rams are now searching for a replacement for Diggs and someone to step in on the side opposite him as well. While no final decision has been made, Vobora and Chamberlain got the first crack at filling those roles with Vobora sliding over from the weak side to the strong side and Chamberlain jumping back in on the weak side.

          Diggs was present at Wednesday’s practice and there’s little doubt the Rams would like to have his knowledge and experience available as a resource for their young linebackers the rest of the season. He’s scheduled to have surgery on torn pectoral Friday.

          “He’s a veteran,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He wants to be a part of it. He doesn’t want to all of a sudden check out. He’s a pro.”

          Vobora and Chamberlain are also pros, pros who have almost three full years in the league, a proud accomplishment for guys who entered the league as seventh-round picks in the 2008 NFL Draft.

          And while both Vobora and Chamberlain have been given opportunities to play in the defense, both have been able to stick around behind strong performances on special teams and providing depth at the three linebacker spots.

          For Vobora, the chance to fill in for Diggs on the strong side shouldn’t provide too many tricks along the way.

          In two full seasons and 12 games this season, Vobora has started 12 of 32 career games. He got his first start of the season and the first of his career on the weak side last week, giving him starts at each of the three linebacker positions.

          This week, it appears Vobora will be going back to the spot where he has made the majority (10) of those starts, the strong side.

          In his 12 games last year, Vobora posted 41 tackles, a pass defended and a forced fumble. Because of that experience, Vobora says he does feel a bit more relaxed back on the strong side.

          “I have probably done it more so I maybe feel a little more comfortable,” Vobora said. “Both are pretty similar. They both have their same things on the outside so you hear coach say if you know the SAM...
          -12-08-2010, 07:41 PM