Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has faith in Michael Sam. However, he also contends that the defensive end has a long way to go to make it in the NFL.
Sam played well for the St. Louis Rams in the pre-season, however, the organization released the seventh-round pick on Saturday when the squad pared-down their roster to the 53-man limit. For all the issues that the Rams face this season, including finding a replacement for Quarterback Sam Bradford who re-injured his surgically repaired knee in a pre-season game, the team's defensive line is a strong point.
On Wednesday, Jones took a chance with the NFL's first openly gay player and signed Sam to the team's practice squad. However, that doesn't mean that Sam will ever play a down for the Cowboys in an actual game.
"He's a pass-rusher," Jones said today in an interview with 105.3 The Fan. "He has a lot to go when he comes to working in space or a lot to go when it comes to special teams. It's hard to be just a situational pass-rusher if you can't be a special teams player, so he's got a long way to go. He's in a good place."
"As (coach Jason Garrett) said, the first thing for practice squad guys is by its very name it gives you practice. It allows you to practice better. That will be his primary responsibility and he'll get to be able to work and refine his skills. But it's no secret we need pass-rushers and we need some defensive linemen."
I look forward to putting my helmet and pads on every day to work my hardest to help bring a sixth Super Bowl Championship to Dallas!! (3/3)
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) September 3, 2014
Coach Garrett likes Sam's pedigree, "Obviously he was a very good player in college, a co-defensive player of the year in maybe the best conference in college football, so his track record speaks for itself," Garrett said. "We did not draft him, but like with a ton of players around this league, we evaluate these guys all throughout the preseason."
The Cowboys could really use some help on the defensive side of the ball. The Dallas D gave up 6,645 yards last season, the most in the history of the franchise, and the third most ever in NFL history.
Whether or not Sam makes it on the team's active roster remains to be seen. They have several other defensive ends on their practice squad that Sam will be competing against, including Lavar Edwards who they traded for and Jack Crawford who they signed on September 2.