Combine Updates: Sam, Bridgewater, Browns

Last year, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o‘s media session at the Scouting Combine drew the biggest crowds. Before that, it was Florida’s Tim Tebow who stole the show.

Today was Missouri defensive end Michael Sam‘s turn to face the horde of reporters, his first public speaking appearance since coming out February 9. He impressed, as expected, according to Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star.

Sam tried to downplay his sexuality and steer things back to football. “I wish you guys would just say, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going?'” he said. “I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.” 

When pushed about an environment like the Dolphins‘ locker room and the Richie Incognito bullying scandal, Sam said he was “not afraid” and that he could handle himself.

In the end, Sam just wants the opportunity to make a roster and rush the passer. “If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback,” he said. “And this league is a passing league, so I like to (see) myself as a good pass rusher. … I can jump back in coverage as well. But my specialty is rushing the passer.”

Other notes from Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine…

  • Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater proclaimed himself the best quarterback in the draft, per Jim Corbett of USA TODAY.
  • Bridgewater won’t throw during Sunday’s quarterback drills, but he will throw at his pro day, which takes place on March 17.
  • Tania Ganguli covers the Texans for ESPN, and said Bridgewater “projected an air of sincerity and likability throughout his combine news conference.” She expects Bridgewater to fare well when he sits down with Houston coach Bill O’Brien, owner of the 2014 No. 1 overall pick.
  • The potential pairing of Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with Browns second-year stud Josh Gordon has Cleveland scribes buzzing, especially after Watkins mentioned it himself. “I think Josh Gordon is probably one of the top receivers in the NFL,” Watkins said, according to ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon. “He led receivers this year with 1,700 yards. I’d kind of take the pressure off of him with being double-covered or them flipping coverage to his side. It’d be a nightmare for (defenses) to match up.”
  • McManamon wrote a separate piece yesterday discussing the virtues of a possible pairing, using the successful duo of the Falcons’ Julio Jones and Roddy White as an example.
  • Texas wide receiver Mike Davis has a minor right foot injury and was not cleared to take part in Sunday’s on-field drills, tweets NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport.
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