The Dallas Cowboys have signed 24-year-old defensive end Michael Sam, the league's first openly gay player, to the practice squad.
Head coach Jason Garrett made the announcement Wednesday during his daily news conference.
Sam was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the Rams and, like all of the Rams' other 7th round picks, was cut Saturday as the team cut down to their 53-man roster.
The Cowboys could use his help due to injuries on the defense to the likes of Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence and Anthony Spencer, and the loss of marquee players like DeMarcus Ware. Defensive end George Selvie may miss Sunday's opener with a shoulder injury.
In three preseason games with the Rams, Sam totaled nine tackles and three sacks.
"It's well-documented the guys we had here last year are no longer with us," Garrett said. "So we want to make sure we are giving ourselves the best chance with young players. With veteran players. With guys who are with us. With guys who are on other teams to come help us be as good as we can be on the defensive line."
Garrett said Sam will be limited in practice Wednesday. He dodged any questions about tension in the locker room regarding Sam's signing and would only say the team was focused on football and the upcoming regular season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
"We're focused on football. That's where our attention is, and what people say outside this organization is really up to them," Garrett said.
Despite the depleted talent on the Cowboys defensive front, Sam isn't likely to be on the active roster for Sunday's season opener against San Francisco.
While he is on the Cowboys practice squad any other NFL team could sign him, but they would have to put him on their 53-man roster for a minimum of four weeks.
Sam wore No. 96 for the Rams and was the league's second best-selling rookie jersey behind Johnny Manziel. For the Cowboys, he'll be wearing No. 46.
Sam is a Texas native who played high school football at Hitchcock High School before playing for Missouri. While at Missouri, he was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and had 11 1/2 sacks in the 2013 season.
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