Sports

Cowboys release Michael Sam, NFL's first openly gay player, from practice squad

  • Jan. 1, 2014: Missouri senior defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during an NCAA college football news conference in Irving, Texas. Sam says he is gay, and he could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL.

    Jan. 1, 2014: Missouri senior defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during an NCAA college football news conference in Irving, Texas. Sam says he is gay, and he could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL.  (AP)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2014, file photo, Dallas Cowboys' Michael Sam shakes hands with fans before the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys have released Michael Sam from the practice squad, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, another setback as the NFL’s first openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2014, file photo, Dallas Cowboys' Michael Sam shakes hands with fans before the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys have released Michael Sam from the practice squad, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, another setback as the NFL’s first openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2014, file photo, Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam arrives to speak to reporters after practice at the team's headquarters in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys have released Michael Sam from the practice squad, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, another setback as the NFL’s first openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time.(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2014, file photo, Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam arrives to speak to reporters after practice at the team's headquarters in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys have released Michael Sam from the practice squad, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, another setback as the NFL’s first openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time.(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Dallas Cowboys released defensive end Michael Sam from the practice squad Tuesday, another setback as the NFL’s first openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time.

Sam spent seven weeks with the Cowboys after signing to their practice squad on Sept. 3, four days after he was among the final cuts by the St. Louis Rams at the end of the preseason.

“I want to thank the Jones family and the entire Cowboys organization for this opportunity, as well as my friends, family, teammates, and fans for their support,” Sam said in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon. “While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday.”

The Rams drafted the former SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri late in the seventh round in May. He was pick No. 249 out of 256. Sam had three sacks in the preseason with St. Louis playing mostly against second- and third-stringers.

The Cowboys are among the league’s worst in sacks but have been getting solid production with a rotation in the front four of a defense exceeding expectations.

Dallas also has rookie second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence close to coming back after breaking his right foot in training camp. He was placed on short-term injured reserve and will be eligible to play next week against Arizona.

Veteran defensive end Anthony Spencer has been getting stronger each week in his return from microfracture knee surgery that sidelined him all but one game last season.

The Cowboys (6-1), off to their best start since they were 12-1 in 2007, are playing their second straight NFC East opponent at home, with Washington (2-5) visiting Monday night.

While releasing Sam, the Cowboys added linebacker Troy Davis of Central Florida and defensive tackle Ken Bishop of Northern Illinois to their practice squad.