As smart as he is - and he is very smart - Sam Acho says he felt ''overwhelmed'' when he first saw the size of the Arizona Cardinals' playbook.
Not only was he going to have to study a new defense cover to cover, he was going to have to learn a new position, moving from the defensive end position he played at Texas to outside linebacker in the NFL.
Eleven games into his rookie season, Acho has taken over the starting job from injured Joey Porter and flourished. In last Sunday's 23-20 win at St. Louis, Acho had two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is tied with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell for the team lead with five sacks, even though he has started only the last five games.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said bringing Acho along slowly earlier this season has led to his recent success.
''Just like a lot of these guys, he made a lot of mistakes early,'' Whisenhunt said. ''When you do that, you have a tendency to lose your confidence. Sam wasn't thrown into the f...