Cowboys try to stay focused amid distractions

IRVING — Cowboys players who arrived early at Valley Ranch Wednesday had three things to deal with.

First, there was the media circus around defensive end Michael Sam.

Then there was the news that Josh Brent could rejoin the team after a 10-game suspension.

And finally — and most importantly — they are getting ready for Sunday's season opener against the 49ers.

The signing of Sam dominated the daily news conference of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

"I think most importantly, it's an external thing," he said. "That comes from the outside. That's your decision as to what question you want to ask."

"It feels good to be a Cowboy," Sam said. "It feels great."

Following a physical, Sam was on the field to for his first practice in a Cowboys uniform.

"This is Jerry's team," Sam said after practice. "He wants everything right, and I'm here to do everything I can to earn a spot on this team."

"If he's good enough to develop as a practice squad [player], he could evolve — and many players do — evolve into a contributor," team owner Jerry Jones said. ,"That would be a plus for the Cowboys."

Jones was in Austin promoting a Cowboys scratch-off game with the Texas Lottery. He also talked about Josh Brent being cleared to play in the months ahead.

"There is a chance that life's experiences could make him really be a contributor, and we do believe in second chances," Jones said.

The focus this week is supposed to be on opening day, so the addition of Sam to the practice squad and the pending return of Brent could not come at a worse time for the team. But it's something every player in that locker room has to deal with this week.

"I think it's probably a combination of everything," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "I think that's football — something we respect — but our focus has to be on San Francisco."

"Just be mature about the situation," Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray added. "We know we're focused on the 49ers, and everything else really doesn't matter."

Michael Sam summed it up this way: "It's about football."


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