ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 8: Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams pass rushes against the New Orleans Saints in a preseason game at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) By Michael Thomas
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 8: Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams pass rushes in a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) By Michael Thomas
ST. LOUIS (FootballStL) -- Michael Sam continues to get more attention than any other seventh round draft choice in NFL history. Not from local media, but nationally. Specifically ESPN, who recently aired a report on Sam’s showering habits prompting defensive dnd Chris Long to tweet “Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it”. ESPN later apologized for the bizarre report.
The question of Michael Sam actually making the Rams final roster is a legitimate story. Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, has been very impressive in the preseason games with three sacks and several quarterback pressures. To nobody’s surprise he survived the first cut down to 75 players, but will likely be on the bubble when the Rams have to cut down to 53 players next Saturday.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher said Sam is being considered for a roster spot for his ability as a defensive lineman, not a special teams player. “It’s really unfair to have expectations of him to be productive at that because you just don’t…as a defensive end, you’re not asked to do those things. And he’s not a ‘tweener’ as people have referred to. He’s a defensive end, not a linebacker, and it’s rare that you get a defensive end that’s going to go out and contribute on all four of your core special teams. We have one defensive end on our team, Eugene Sims, that is on our punt protection team and that’s it. So, special teams is not part of the equation for Mike. We’re giving him every opportunity to do so and he’s participated in special teams practices and everything but that’s not going to be part of the criteria for the evaluations.”
Sam is battling a numbers game to make the final roster. He’s facing tough competition from undrafted rookie defensive end Ethan Westbrooks, who has also had an impressive training camp.
Fisher said, “I think they’re both doing well right now. No different than any other positional races on this football team. They’re both doing well. You know me, I’m not going to say who’s one or who’s two.”
The Rams normally keep 10 defensive lineman for the final roster, but Fisher said that could change this year and the team could keep as many as 12. That could be good news for Michael Sam, assuming he turns in another strong performance Thursday night in the preseason finale against Miami. Fisher won’t say how much he expects to play Sam. “We feel like we just finished up the Cleveland game. We’re going to be selective and some may play more than others. Really that’s all I can say now.”