Sam confident of making a team as last cuts loom

AFP
Defensive end Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams reacts during pregame workouts on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida
Defensive end Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams reacts during pregame workouts on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida (AFP Photo/Marc Serota)

St. Louis (AFP) - Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the National Football League, is confident he will play for a team this season, although maybe not the St. Louis Rams.

Sam, a defensive end, led St. Louis with six tackles Thursday in a 14-13 loss at Miami in the Rams' final pre-season game ahead of Saturday's deadline to trim the roster from 75 players to a final 53-man lineup.

"I'm very confident I will be playing on an NFL roster this fall," Sam said.

It might not be with the Rams, however, who boast a strong selection of veteran defensive lineman and two strong rookies in Sam and Ethan Westbrooks, the newcomers likely fighting for one spot.

The NFL's website reported Friday night that the Rams cut 17 players and Sam was not among them, but that still meant the team had five more players to release by Saturday afternoon.

While St. Louis has an abundance of talent in Sam's position, other teams lacking players with such pass-rushing skills likely will be looking for someone with his abilities after making their own cuts.

"I believe he can play in this league," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

Sam made 11 tackles and three quarterback sacks in four pre-season appearances with the Rams. His five hits on quarterbacks matched Westbrooks for the most of any Ram in the pre-season.

Sam would follow in the history-making footsteps of football's Robbie Rogers and the NBA's Jason Collins.

Last February, Collins made history as the first openly gay man in one of the four major American pro team sports leagues when he played for the Brooklyn Nets.

Rogers became the first openly gay man to play in a US sports league when he took the field for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in May of last year.

The buzz around Sam's status and situation led to some controversy this week when ESPN reported on some players talking about Sam's shower habits, prompting a Twitter rebuke from Rams defensive end Chris Long -- "Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it."