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VALLEY RANCH -- If you hear a rapid clicking and clacking, it's most likely the collective sound of keyboard strokes from media members and pundits churning out their opinions on the newest Dallas Cowboys, as the team officially announced the signing of Michael Sam to the practice squad Wednesday.

There is attention both positive and negative about the league's first openly gay player. There is even more attention brought to that attention.

But if you ask Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, that's not what it's about.

"We're focused on football. Anything else comes from this group out here," he said, gesturing toward the throng of media on hand for the Sam announcement.

"We feel like he has a chance to come in at a position we tried to address throughout the offseason and make a contribution."

The Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round, but he was placed on in-season injured reserve and will miss at least eight weeks. They signed Jack Crawford and traded for defensive end Lavar Edwards from the Tennessee Titans.

Both of those players were acquired with the intention of placing them on the active roster.

Garrett said the practice squad addition of Sam, the former SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was a good move for the football team, not unlike any of the other guys it brought back for the practice squad.

"The way we view the practice squad is that their job is first and foremost to help facilitate practice," Garrett said. "It's also a great way to develop talent and evaluate talent."

It was what Garrett called the "same refrain" during the regularly scheduled media session: The move is strictly about football.

Talking about football, Sam did record three sacks in the preseason, more than the combined preseason total of Cowboys players still on the roster. Sam had an impressive college resume and is a player the Cowboys evaluated leading up to the draft.

He couldn't land a spot on a Rams team that is deep at the defensive end position, but the Cowboys got rave reviews about him out of St. Louis.

And now Sam is the most talked-about practice squad player, playing for one of the most talked-about sports franchises in the country.

But Garrett said the focus of everyone with the Cowboys is on the challenge presented by the San Francisco 49ers coming to town Sept. 7 to kick off the regular season.

What people say outside of the organization is up to them, he said.

"We have to be careful spending too much time talking about a practice roster player."

Email: lhaaf@wfaa.com

Michael Sam joins the Dallas Cowboys

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