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Preseason opener a special first NFL game for Rams RBs coach Ra'Shaad Samples

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Ra'Shaad Samples had never been in to an NFL game before.

Until last Saturday.

When the Rams took on the Chargers last Saturday in their preseason opener, it was Samples' first NFL game – ever. And as a first-year running backs coach for a team.

"It was insane, bro," Samples told Tuesday. "I talked to my mom, talked to my dad, talked to some close friends before the game and my first NFL game (coaching) being my first NFL game was crazy. First time I've seen that atmosphere, been in an NFL atmosphere. Just being on the sideline for it, because I've never been a fan at a game, but being able to coach in one, I mean it was unbelievable. I had to snap out of fan mode, wide-eyed coach right before pregame, because that atmosphere was insane."

Given that he grew up the son of a high school football coach, later played football in high school and college, trying to make it to an NFL game on a Sunday (or any other day of the week, for that matter) didn't always work out from a scheduling standpoint.

Thus, the closest Samples had been to experiencing an NFL game or atmosphere was playing against St. Thomas Aquinas in the then-recently-built Cowboys Stadium during his sophomore year of high school in 2010. St. Thomas Aquinas, coincidentally, had future 2016 No. 3 pick Joey Bosa.

Plus, Samples also began his own coaching career at a young age.

"I started college coaching at 20, so every weekend for me has been packed up," Samples said.

When Samples arrived at SoFi Stadium last Saturday, he facetimed his parents, and later spent some time sitting on the Rams' bench at the opponents' 40-yard line – a pregame routine he's had with every coaching staff he's been a part of.

"We just talked about like, 'Why haven't y'all ever taken me to an NFL game before? I literally had to work my way to go to an NFL game,'" Samples said with a laugh. "We just kind of laughed about that stuff. It helped me kind of get the jitters out also, always talking to them."

Samples said he didn't know what to expect coming in, when asked how his expectations heading into the game compared to reality. But once the game kicked off, it felt like business as usual.

"Once the whistle's blown and the ball is set down, it's all football again, right? It's coaching again," Samples said. "I've been doing this for seven years, so I think it was just the atmosphere, the experience, the realization that hey, this is the NFL, this is the highest level of football, you know what I'm saying? Being a part of that was cool."

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