(Editor's Note: Dan Turner, a journalist from England, has come across the pond for the second straight training camp, to get a closer look at America's Team. Throughout camp, Dan (@dtsturner) has provided some insight on several rookies, continuing today with Efe Obada, who played just his sixth game of American football.)
OXNARD, Calif. - Thursday's night game with the Chargers was an NFL debut for several players. But most of them have at least played American football before, whether it was in college and/or high school.
Efe Obada played his first game in the states Thursday, and just the sixth ever after a short stint with the London Warriors, an amateur team from England.
He only played a handful of snaps, all coming at left defensive end, but it was a start for the Englishman.
"I did enjoy it," Obada said. "It was an emotional rollercoaster for me, highs and lows, but I did enjoy it. It was amazing."
Obada came to the Cowboys as a complete mystery. There was very little game film available on him, so as a player, he was a complete unknown. Training camp helped to show some of what he is as a player, but it was good to finally see him suit up and play against proper NFL players on a proper NFL field.
He seemed a little disappointed with his overall performance though. Despite his lack of experience in the game of American football, he holds himself to an incredibly high standard.
"It was a learning curve. It was a great experience overall, but I did a lot of bad things that I need to improve on."
The "bad things" which Obada talked about revolve around a couple of running plays, where Obada was pinned inside, opening up holes for the Chargers running backs to bounce outside for decent gains.
"My pad level, and ability to use my hands," Obada said. "Everything else, I think I'm slowly getting. With my pad level, as a very tall guy, it's very hard to bend my knees, and then I get tired more quickly."
By standing up off the snap, it means that he's losing the leverage battle and allowing himself to be manoeuvred by blockers.
Obada may be being a little harsh on himself though. His first couple of snaps could hardly have gone better, stacking up an offensive tackle to close a running lane on his first play, and then driving the same blocker back to the quarterback to force a hurried and incomplete throw next play.
"It felt good, but then obviously things happened, and after that, it went down," Obada said. "But I'm just going to take it as a learning curve, watch tape, and understand how I should react to certain situations."
These flashes should encourage both Obada and the Cowboys staff though, as potentially a glimpse of things to come.
On the other side of the Atlantic, many Brits stayed up to witness Obada's first professional snaps, with the game finishing at 6am over there. Obada seemed taken aback by this news, saying "oh did they? Wow. I just hope I did them proud. I'm grateful for that, and it makes me feel amazing."
Everything has changed so quickly in his life that he really doesn't comprehend how famous he is back in Britain, and how much people are desperate for him to succeed. Obada said "it does make me proud" to be representing the UK over here in America, but also "it feels like weight on my shoulders that I'm trying not to have right now." Efe, as well as Jack Crawford (who, by the way, put in an extremely impressive performance today) are the pride of British NFL fans, as well as obviously the UK Cowboys Fans group.
Overall, Obada exceeded expectations on his first appearance. The Cowboys know that he isn't the finished product, and they expect that he'll make mistakes.
What he showed though was flashes of his raw ability, and consistent effort and fight, which they hope can be mined into an NFL player. From what we saw on Thursday night, he has a chance.