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Michael Sam involved in scuffle during Rams practice and that's OK

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A teammate takes exception to Sam hitting him during non-contact drills. Sam says he has to step up his game to make team.

Michael Sam works with Rams veteran lineman Chris Long during minicamp.
Michael Sam works with Rams veteran lineman Chris Long during minicamp.
NFL

It was odd trying to write a headline for this since simply saying that Michael Sam was involved in a scuffle during the St. Louis Rams minicamp would lead people to believe it was because he is openly gay; hence the qualifier. That wasn't the case Thursday when Sam was one of several Rams involved in extracurricular activities.

[Coach Jeff] Fisher stopped practice after [one] incident and called the team together, basically telling the players to knock it off. However two other mini-scuffles followed, the mildest occurring when seventh-round defensive end Michael Sam of Missouri gave running back Isaiah Pead a little extra -- namely a forearm to the back -- while Pead was trying to pass-block against him.

These practices are considered "non-contact" and these kinds of scuffles break out regularly during mini-camp and training camp. But when one of them involves the first openly gay NFL draftee, that becomes news. After the scuffles ended, Fisher said he "just let 'em know that we have some rules we have to abide by. Learn to protect each other a little bit better. But it was good. It was very competitive."

Sam also addressed the media Friday and pretty much stuck to his line about being a football player, not a gay player. "I've got to step my game up to compete with this defensive line," Sam said. "I thought our defensive line at Mizzou was pretty tough. This is a whole new level. I've got to up my game."

ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner said that Sam was trying to lose weight so he could be faster to play on special teams  and that he also worked out with the second-team defensive line. All reviews of how Sam is fitting in are positive, Wagoner said, and him getting into a scuffle shows that for now he's just one of the guys.