Updates from Saturday. Aug. 30
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Michael Sam's roster status with the St. Louis Rams:
No history yet...Rams released DE Michael Sam. Prime practice-squad candidate.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 30, 2014
Defensive end Michael Sam is very much on the St. Louis Rams' roster bubble, but the seventh-round rookie believes he'll be playing in the NFL during the 2014 regular season.
USA Today's Tom Pelissero reports Sam made it through the first round of Rams cuts:
I'm told #Rams cut 17 guys today, including two defensive linemen, Kourtnei Brown and Deantre Harlan. No Michael Sam yet. Five moves to go.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 29, 2014
According to ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner, the Missouri product expects to catch on somewhere even if he isn't among the 53 men who start the year with the Rams.
"You know what, it's not going to be like the draft," Sam said. "I'm very confident that I'm going to sleep really well tonight and I'm very confident I'm going to be on a team, the Rams or any other team in the NFL."
Peter King of Sports Illustrated indicates Sam may be facing an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster:
Ethan Westbrooks still a Ram. Will make final 53. Question is whether Rams keep a 10th DL. Tough call. If not, practice squad poss for Sam.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 29, 2014
Based on how well the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year has performed throughout the preseason, it is difficult to argue with his assessment. In addition to registering three sacks over the course of the preseason, Sam led the Rams with six tackles in their final tune-up contest against the Miami Dolphins Thursday.
Even though Sam has far exceeded expectations, NFL.com's Michael Silver does not believe that he will make the Rams' roster cut:
I do not expect Michael Sam to end up on the Rams' 53-man roster. But he could absolutely end up on some team's 53.— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 29, 2014
More than anything, Sam would be a victim of circumstance. He happens to play for a team that boasts one of the best defensive lines in football, including elite pass-rushers like Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Sam is also hurt somewhat by being a one-dimensional player.
Per NFL.com's Albert Breer, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher does not view Sam as a special teams contributor:
Rams coach Jeff Fisher says the decision on Michael Sam making it will be almost entirely based on his defensive ability, not special teams.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 26, 2014
Since the last players on the roster are generally expected to make an impact on special teams, Sam's inexperience in that area could possibly prevent him from making the team.
No matter what happens, though, Fisher agrees that Sam is a capable NFL player, according to Wagoner.
"I believe he can play in this league," Fisher said.
Which team will Michael Sam play for during the 2014 regular season?
Pass-rushers are like gold in the NFL since getting to the quarterback is the key to slowing down opposing offenses. Even if Sam is nothing more than a pass-rush specialist, that is enough to land him a job somewhere.
Observers are always going to focus on his status as the NFL's first openly gay player, but whether or not Sam makes an NFL roster should be based solely on his play.
Sam may not be a fit in St. Louis, but it is almost impossible to imagine teams passing him up if he becomes available. He has proven time and time again that he can get to the quarterback, so look for Sam to be donning an NFL jersey when the regular season commences.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter