Rams defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player, was confident after his pro debut Friday night, reiterating that he "can play in this league," after recording a quarterback hurry and a solo tackle in a 26-24 loss to the Saints.
The seventh-round pick out of Missouri entered the game with 5:13 left in the first quarter and was cheered loudly by the home crowd when his name was announced inside the Edward Jones Dome.
"I got some nerves out today, and it was a very good learning experience," the 24-year-old Sam said after the game. "And I can play in this league."
Rams coach Jeff Fisher also said the 6-2, 261-pound Sam will strictly be a defensive end.
"There's a lot of talk with Mike being a 'tweener,' maybe a standup pass-rusher," Fisher said. "It's rare to find a defensive end playing special teams in the NFL.
"Michael is a defensive end, OK? He plays defensive end with his hand down."
Michael Sam with a pressure (wiped by defensive holding) and now a QB hit. Crowd cheers as his name is announced the first time. — Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 9, 2014
- Chris Mascaro