The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

May 12, 2014

Column: Sam unafraid to rise or fall on his terms

(Continued)

As for the rest, Sam sounds more than capable of taking care of himself.

"You know what, I knew what I was coming into. I'm not afraid to answer questions. Are there going to be idiots out there that say some stupid stuff? Yeah," he said, without waiting for an answer. "I'm not worried about that. I'm worrying about the guy next to me, the guy in front of me. I have to prove myself."

The other knock on Sam was that he'd have to learn to a new position in the NFL, shifting from defensive end, where he played at Missouri, to a pass-rushing linebacker. He didn't minimize how tough the transition would be, and he's logged a few hundred hours in gyms and weight rooms since the Tigers season ended getting prepared.

He also knows only too well what happens to guys who don't fit the mold. Most get pushed out after a few unsuccessful tries; a few are committed enough to try hard enough to break the mold. Sam left little doubt about which camp he fit in.

"I am a pass rusher, I sack quarterbacks," he said. "That's my main job."

Sam will get a better-than-even chance to prove that in St. Louis, a team with a young, fast-improving defense and a coach, Jeff Fisher, who likes to take risks. He'll also benefit from the goodwill earned playing his college ball just down the road in Columbia.

But the fact is Sam got this far because his own expectations long ago surpassed those that everybody else laid in his path. Getting the chance to rise or fall on his terms is all he ever asked. Anyone who thinks Sam is going to let go of that without a fight hasn't been listening.

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