Sam Eguavoen, 26, started 35 games in three years in the CFL and he’s about to take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens
DAVIE — It may be 92 degrees when the Dolphins take on the Ravens Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, but of more concern to Canadian Football League alumnus Sam Eguaveon must be opposing quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“You really have to honor him and respect his wheels,” Eguavoen, Miami’s first-year linebacker, said Thursday. “Because he will get out on you. He's no joke.”
Eguaveon is a young guy on the NFL’s youngest team. Eguaveon, 26, is one of 17 Dolphins officially categorized as a rookie or first-year player.
But Eguavoen, who started 35 games over three years in the CFL, is different. His teammates say it. His coaches say it. And he’s not afraid to say it, either.
“I definitely feel because of the CFL, I'm no rookie,” Eguavoen said. “A lot of people may look down on the CFL, but it is still professional football. A bunch of other players out there just like me trying to make the next jump. They attack the game the say way I do. So being there three years I learned a lot, I matured a lot.”
One of the most interesting things to watch in Sunday’s game will be how Eguavoen performs. Eguavoen, a starter, seems to be an absolute gem of a find.
“He plays fast, with zero hesitation,” Miami linebackers coach Rob Leonard said this week. “He plays like a confident football player that’s played a lot of football in the CFL in three years. In my mind, you can’t replace that experience. See ball, get ball. He was a highly productive player in the CFL. I remember when I watched his tape back when I first got here, that’s the first thing that flashed. No hesitation, explosive and can tackle. You can coach it, but that’s pretty instinctive right there.”
Ironically, Eguavoen will be challenged to not be overly-aggressive or over-pursue against Jackson, a dynamic runner.
“You've got to count him as the sixth element of eligibles,” Eguavoen said. “You can't just sit back there and just think that he's a QB. You've got to look at him completely differently — as a running back back there. He plays like a Wildcat. So you've got to be real cautious when you're dropping. And it starts up front. I know our defensive lineman want to be very, very disciplined with him. You can't be selfish and do your own thing.”
Eguaveon has had a really strong spring and summer. He and second-year linebacker Jerome Baker seem to complement each other well.
“We just communicate well,” Eguavoen said. “I move as he moves. He moves as I move. Some days I ain't got the juice and he's bringing it. We really just feed off each other.”
When Eguavoen was at Texas Tech, he practiced frequently against pass-run quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield.
“I played with Mahomes for one year,” Eguavoen said. “Everything he's doing now in the NFL, he was doing that at Tech. At first everyone was like, ’This kid is reckless but he's putting every ball on the money.’ So we were like, ’he's the truth.’”
Obviously Jackson is more explosive on the ground than those player, but Eguavoen did also face other athletic quarterbacks in the Big 12 and the CFL.
Eguaveon feels he’s more ready now than he would have been as an NFL rookie at 22.
“Twenty two to twenty six, I'm like night and day, I'm not going to lie,” Eguaveon said. “I mean I couldn't even imagine coming into the league at 22 and making the kind of money that NFL players make. I would probably be out the league by 26. But three years in the league really taught me. I really grew. The last time I ever felt like a rookie was when we played the Atlanta Falcons for the first preseason game. After that, I said, 'I'm here to grind. I'm here to play. I'm here to make plays. And do whatever it takes to win.'"
Eguavoen has steadily gained confidence throughout camp. He knows Jackson spoke in his weekly news conference about putting on a show at Hard Rock Stadium. But he’s not fazed.
“He's a ball player,” Eguaveon said. “He's going to find a way to make plays. I mean that's just the NFL. There is never a perfect game in this league. It's all about just containing and doing your best to get out with a win. I'm sure he's going to make a play here or there. He's playing in front of his home crowd, but man, he'd better take care of that football.”
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