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Preseason finale gives Michael Sam chance at lasting impression

Michael Sam is far from a sure bet to make the final Rams roster.  (USATSI)
Michael Sam is far from a sure bet to make the final Rams roster. (USATSI)

The fourth NFL preseason game is among the more meaningless enterprises in pro sports, and following a rash of injuries last week the Rams intend to rest a vast majority of their starters Thursday night.

For rookie defensive end Michael Sam, however, Thursday's game at Miami will be vital to determining whether he makes the 53-man roster.

Sam is scheduled for a heavy load. The Rams are deep in the defensive front -- it's among the best stocked in the NFL -- and whether Sam makes the final roster is very much in debate, sources said. He has flashed at times on the pass rush but questions remain about his ability to hold up under more significant workload and as to whether keeping him over a more versatile lineman would be in the best interest of the club.

"He can play in the league," one member of the organization said, "and there's probably a roster spot out there for him."

The question remains whether Sam can crack the Rams roster at this position. Sam is a tweener -- not particularly big or fast -- and the game against the Dolphins will be a final opportunity for him to make a statement.

The reaction to Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, has been universally positive among his teammates and coaches, and there is no shortage of people rooting for him to make the team and have a productive NFL career. Coach Jeff Fisher supports him wholeheartedly and has the authority to more or less carve out a roster spot for him if he chooses to, but at its core this will be a football decision and in that regard Sam still has something to prove to cement a spot on the team, sources said.

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