By Mike Fisher | @FishSports

IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) — Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, has been signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice-squad, assigned jersey No. 46 and is “excited to be a Cowboy.”

“It has all happened so quickly, but it’s exciting,” Sam told the Daily Mail. “I just wanna get back to playing football.”

The Cowboys have released rookie linebacker Will Smith from Texas Tech to make room on the 10-man practice squad.

Sam, who grew up in Texas, said “I never followed the Cowboys growing up because I never had a team. I am a fan of defenses, and Dallas needs some help, that’s why I’m going.”

Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams this past weekend after drafting him in the seventh round in May. The Cowboys did not have the pass-rusher on their draft board.

There will be speculation about marketing opportunities and stories about the social impact of the signing. But coach Jason Garrett insists the focus should stay on football.

“We feel like he has a chance to come in and compete for a spot,” Garrett said. “We got nothing but good reports about him. This is about football. We evaluated him as a football player. Our attention is on football.”

When Garrett was pressed on the ramifications of signing Sam, the focused head coach pushed back.

“We’ve got to be careful not to spend too much time on a practice squad player.”

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