When the Colts signed defensive end Samson Ebukam, at the time it felt like an under-the-radar move, however, after the first three weeks of the season, Ebukam is now on everyone's radar.
His best game thus far came Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens where he had four tackles, a strip sack and two tackles for loss in the 22-19 win.
"He was the player of the game for us on defense yesterday," head coach Shane Steichen said Monday. "Shoot, he was all over the field, sack-fumble. He plays with so much physicality, he sets the edges, he rushes the passer, he's able to fall back and make plays on the running back like he did the other day. Just a tremendous get – great job by Chris Ballard and his staff. Signing him in the offseason was a huge get for us."
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ebukam came to the United States when he was nine. Up until joining the Colts, he'd spent much of his life on the West Coast having gone to high school in Portland, playing college football at Eastern Washington and then professionally for the Los Angeles Rams (2017-2020) and the San Francisco 49ers (2021-2022).
Wanting a change in scenery, Ebukam said Indianapolis was the place he felt compelled to come to.
"I prayed about it, I thought about it a lot. I felt like it was a good place for a fresh start for sure," Ebukam said. "Definitely less distractions than Los Angeles and the Bay. And the taxes are pretty good, so I'm not too mad about that.
"It was definitely a culture shock, but I prayed about it and I was like, 'God, there's a reason that you brought me here. So, I'm just gonna surrender and let you take over matters.' And I believe I made the right choice."
Despite the many adjustments that come with signing with a new team, Ebukam had no trouble getting acquainted with the rest of the locker room, especially with fellow defensive linemen.
"I think he does a good job with Kwity [Paye], Dayo [Odeyingbo] and all the rest of the [defensive] ends in there," defensive line coach Nate Ollie said. "He's just got this calm, cool, collective approach. He doesn't get too high; he doesn't get too low. He's coming in ready to work and also just helping the other ends out with their footwork, certain ways to use their hands and asks great questions about certain ways to attack offensive linemen."
Having seen Ebukam's film before coming to Indianapolis, Odeyingbo said one of the things that he's picked up from the veteran has been his explosiveness.
"I mean, just the way he gets off the ball and his physicality both in the run and the pass [defense] has been great to watch," Odeyingbo said. "I mean, we saw a lot of his play last year just through watching [his] film with San Fran because we run a similar scheme. So, watching him in San Fran and seeing him come here and do a lot of the same things and even improve has been really cool to see. So yeah, just learning from his physicality and his explosion off the ball."
As his chemistry with his teammates off the field grows, it makes things so much easier for him when it's time to play.
Signed with the intention he would provide the defensive line with speed on the edge, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Ebukam has already exceeded their expectations.
"That LEO spot that you've heard us maybe talk about, that's what he fulfills," Bradley said. "Some teams will design runs to attack him and I think for us – Samson, what he's done a great job of is not only his pass rush and speed there, but his ability to play the run. He can set the edge, take on a cut block, a slice block, pullers. He has been really good there as far as setting the edge for us with that. I think that's what makes him unique – probably a little better than we anticipated."
Throughout Ebukam's career, he has always found a way to be productive, no matter where he was asked to line up. However, he still finds himself being overlooked.
While that used to bother him early on in his career, Ebukam said he now has a different perspective.
"The way I'm looking at it, everybody that gets recognition, they all earned it," Ebukam said. "I don't sit here and say, 'Oh yeah, I want my recognition.' I'm just gonna go out, do what I do and God is gonna handle the rest. All the recognition will go up to him no matter what. So, I'm not really over here talking about, 'Oh yeah, I need people to recognize me.' I'm like, 'Nah, I need people to recognize who I'm serving.' That's all I'm really worried about."
Instead Ebukam is driven by making a difference. In 2020, he established the T&S Foundation, with a mission to fulfill basic humanitarian needs for the people of Nigeria.
"I got a foundation, the T&S foundation that's trying to help the people out in Nigeria and just to make their life easier," Ebukam said. "Just to make sure that their life is a little bit easier than it was for me. And if this game will help to bring recognition to that then I'm doing something well."