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Michael Sam signs with Dallas Cowboys

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
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Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam (46) jogs on the field during team practice Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas.LM Otero, AP

Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam (46) jogs on the field during team practice Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas.

Updated: 3:45 p.m. CDT

IRVING, Texas — Michael Sam’s second chance in the NFL will be with the Dallas Cowboys.

Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday that the league’s first openly gay player has been added to the practice squad.

The Cowboys, who are seeking help with their pass rush because of injuries and the offseason release of franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware, added Sam four days after he was released by St. Louis when teams had to cut rosters to 53 players.

Dallas Cowboys NFL football head coach Jason Garrett speaks about the signing of Michael Sam to the Cowboys practice squad during a news conference at the team's headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas. LM Otero, AP

Dallas Cowboys NFL football head coach Jason Garrett speaks about the signing of Michael Sam to the Cowboys practice squad during a news conference at the team’s headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas.

Sam isn’t likely to be on the active roster for Sunday’s opener against San Francisco.

Garrett said the move was “about football” and deflected any questions about the impact of bringing in Sam or how it might affect the locker room.

“That’s your decision what question you want to ask,” Garrett told a larger-than-usual crowd at his daily news conference. “We’re focused on football. That’s where our attention is, and what people say outside this organization is really up to them.”

Any team can sign Sam off the Cowboys’ practice squad, but would have to put him on the 53-man roster for a minimum of four weeks.

Being on the Dallas roster means Sam is returning to his home state. He was a lightly regarded recruit out of Hitchcock, Texas, a town of about 7,000 along the Gulf Coast about 40 miles southeast of Houston. His first two years at Missouri, Sam backed up Aldon Smith and Jacquies Smith, both of whom are in the NFL.

The Cowboys didn’t have Sam on their draft board, with owner Jerry Jones saying his size and skill set had him caught between defensive end and outside linebacker. Dallas passed on him with three of five seventh-round picks before the Rams got him at No. 249 out of 256 selections.

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Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year with 11 1/2 sacks at Missouri last season, couldn’t crack a St. Louis roster that was stocked with proven pass rushers. But he also lost out to Ethan Westbrooks, the Rams’ top target among undrafted rookies.

Sam had three sacks, one more than Westbrook. But most of the preseason, he was playing with the second- and third-stringers. Westbrooks was the Division II defensive player of the year when he had 19 1-2 sacks for West Texas A&M.

After coming out as gay to his Missouri teammates before his senior season, Sam told the rest of the world about three months before the May draft.

Sam will wear No. 46 for the Cowboys.

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