For four quarters on Friday night in St. Louis, Michael Sam was just another NFL rookie trying to make the 53-man roster.
Though admittedly nervous at first, Sam recorded one tackle and one quarterback hurry in his NFL preseason debut with the St. Louis Rams.
For Sam, the first openly gay player in league history to participate in a preseason contest, it was a confirmation of what he had thought all along.
“(I know) that I can play in this league,” Sam said, via ESPN. “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.”
Sam is currently competing for a defensive lineman slot on the roster, and Rams coach Jeff Fisher took specific notice of some of his production in the 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“Mike played hard,” Fisher said. “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.”
There are, however, plays Sam would like to have back.
“I could have got two sacks, but one sack I thought was a screen and it wasn’t,” Sam said. “I was upset.”
Sam, drafted in the seventh round by the Rams during the 2014 NFL draft, entered the game with just over five minutes left in the first quarter and played until the end of the third.
“The hardest critic is me, myself,” Sam said. “I think I could have done a little bit better. I’m not mad about my first game, but I know I could have done better.”
Photo via Twitter/@BILLGREENBLATT