Michael Sam has no question about where he belongs this fall. The St. Louis Rams defensive end and the first openly gay player in the NFL was clear.
Rams DE Michael Sam: "I'm very confident I'll be playing on a NFL roster this fall. I know I can play in this league."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 29, 2014
The question now is whether or not he'll be on the Rams 53-man roster. He'll find out soon enough. Teams are required to trim their 75-man rosters down to just 53 players by the end of the day Saturday, Aug. 30.
Sam's fighting for a spot among a deep group of defensive linemen. He's also fending off another August surprise: undrafted free agent Ethan Westbrooks. The two have made a strong case to be on the roster with an impressive stretch of play during the preseason.
Sam finished Thursday night's game with five tackles, six total, the most on the team, that reflected a solid night playing the run. Westbrooks had four tackles and a sack, still finding his way to quarterbacks with each chance he gets.
Last season, the Rams kept nine defensive linemen to start the season. If they go the same route this weekend, that leaves one spot among the incumbent players. But Fisher wouldn't rule out keeping more defensive linemen than usual earlier this week. It's clear that both Sam and Westbrooks have the coach's eye with their output on the field.
If the Rams don't find a spot for Sam, the might be able to stash him on the practice squad. Such a move might be impossible. A constant need for pass rushers, even raw ones, would get either player snatched up before they could clear waivers and be re-signed to the Rams practice squad. Atlanta, Dallas, New York could all use help in that department.