St, Louis Rams NFL Preseason: Did Jeff Fisher Foreshadow That Michael Sam Will Get Cut? [POLL]

Michael Sam interview
St. Louis Rams defensive lineman Michael Sam, talks to the press after the Rams preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s first openly gay player Michael Sam got his first taste of action on Saturday in the St. Louis Ram’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints.

Sam said that the experience was “awesome,” and when asked if he took anything away from the game itself he replied, “That I can play in this league. That’s the most important. I was kind of nervous. I got some nerves out today. It was a very good learning experience, and I can play in this league.”

By all accounts, Sam played pretty well in his debut. He entered the game with five minutes to go in the 1st quarter and finished his action with one tackle, one quarterback hit, and one hurry. Despite Sam’s good moments on the field, his head coach Jeff Fisher was more cryptic in his critique of Sam:

“Mike played hard. I didn’t watch him individually but I saw him on the hurry and the great effort outside the pocket. Saw him on a couple other plays. He slid down and made a play in the run game that stood out. We’ll watch the tape and see how he did.” the Coach told reporters after the game.

Unfortunately for Sam, as great as he played, Sam is competing with many other contenders including Ethan Westbrooks and Sammy Brown for the ninth defensive lineman roster spot. Both Westbrooks and Brown played equally if not better than Sam in the opener against the Saints. Because of the overload of defensive lineman, Sam’s best possibility to make the roster will be on special teams.

Michael Sam St. Louis Ram's rookie Michael Sam played well in his preseason debut, but was it enough to make the Ram's roster? eff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams are fully prepared to cut Sam if necessary and according to sources close to the organization, the chances of Sam making the team are still slim. Seventh-round picks like Sam are often cut to make room for earlier round draft picks on the 53-man roster. Additionally, in the case of Sam his position is extremely talented and deep making his chances of making the roster more difficult. The Ram’s defensive line is one of the best in the NFL and as earlier stated, if Sam wants to see the field it will have to be on kick off and punt returns.

Defensive lineman is typically not a position frequently used on special teams. It requires incredible straight-line speed, which Sam was poor at during the NFL scouting combine.

With the cards stacked against him to make the roster, Fisher perhaps foreshadowed Sam’s eventual departure during his postgame interview.

“Michael is a defensive end.” He said. “It’s rare to find a defensive end playing special teams in the NFL. They don’t do it. It’s the linebackers that do it, all the other positions do it… If Michael can find a way into the core group of special teams -- and we will give him every opportunity to do so – that’s going to help his opportunity to make this team. Again, there’s not a lot of defensive ends that play on special teams.”

Reading between the lines, Fisher’s comments set the stage for Sam to be cut. Fisher reiterated that defensive ends do not usually play on special teams, which perhaps could help curb the media firestorm that would ensue if Sam were to be cut.

Fortunately for Sam, it appears that a lot of the initial trepidation from teams that passed on drafting Sam has proven to be over exaggerated. Sam has been accepted by the locker room and has proven thus far to not be a distraction to his organization or his team.

Additionally, Sam’s popularity and profit potential is rising. Currently, Sam’s jersey is the sixth best selling uniform in NFL jersey sales. Sam’s jersey has hade more sales than future hall of fame QBs Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Sam received loud standing ovations by the St. Louis crowd on Saturday every time he made a play, the reception could mean that if Sam does eventually get cut by the Rams, that he could sign with another team and still have a chance to make an NFL roster with an organization looking for an economic boost. 

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Michael Duarte

Michael J. Duarte is a Los Angeles based writer. Born and raised in the City of Angels, Michael did his undergraduate work at the University of California Santa Barbara and a graduate program at the University of Southern California. Michael was awarded the Paul Lazarus Screenwriting Scholarship Award in 2004 and the Corwin Writing Award for his feature screenplay, "Chasing 4:00" in 2005. In addition to Sports writing, Michael is an avid marathon runner and fan of the Magic Bullet blender.