Michael Sam's bid to become the first openly gay player to make an NFL regular season roster won't come in St. Louis. At least not now.
In making tough final decisions to pare the roster to the 53-man regular-season limit, Sam was released by the team Saturday. The University of Missouri All-American and SEC defensive player of the year now goes on the waiver wire.
The other 31 teams in the NFL have until noon Sunday to claim Sam. If that doesn't happen, he becomes practice squad eligible. Practice squad players can practice with the team, but can't play in games. And Sam is a candidate for the Rams' practice squad, in which case he ultimately could still work his way back up to the active roster.
Sam was taken 249th overall, with just eight picks left in the draft on May 10. He faced long odds from the start because the Rams are stacked on the defensive line, especially at his defensive end position.
From the outset it shaped up as a battle between Sam and undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks for the fifth spot at end behind Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes, and Eugene Sims.
Sam played well, with two sacks during preseason play, including an acclaimed sack of Cleveland rookie Johnny Manziel on Aug. 23, in which Sam's celebration included mimicking Manziel's trademark "money" gesture.
But Westbrooks, undrafted out of West Texas A&M, also had two sacks and showed more burst and big-play potential. In addition, Westbrooks has the versatility to play inside at tackle, a valuable asset for a backup.
Sam, who spent Saturday in Columbia, Mo., watching the Tigers play South Dakota State in their opener, was at peace with himself after unofficially registering six tackles against the Dolphins.
He said he felt he had done all he could to state his case, and was confident he would make some NFL team. He survived Friday's roster moves, when the Rams cut 17 players. But was one of four final roster moves Saturday.
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