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Vobora Steps Into Starting Role

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  • 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

    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