FRISCO, Texas – Officially, David Irving is done with his suspension and eligible to return to the roster as of Monday.
The Cowboys' talented defensive tackle was at work following the team's 26-24 win against Detroit, and the expectation is that he'll settle in to this week's preparations for the Week 5 trip to Houston.
"The schedule is for him to be in today and re-acclimated with the team tomorrow," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
The reality will probably be a little bit more complicated, though. After all, for a guy who missed all of training camp and the first month of the regular season, it might be a little bit more complicated than simply hitting the ground running.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the nature of Irving's suspension did not keep him away from the facility. He has been at The Star for much of the past few weeks working on his conditioning. But it'll still be a wait-and-see process while the coaching staff figures out how ready he is to participate.
"The biggest thing is evaluating where David is as he gets acclimated to playing football again," Garrett said. "He's tried to do a good job with his conditioning here over the last couple of weeks and we'll just see what he's able to do as the practice week goes on."
To that end, it's not even a guarantee that Irving will join the active roster this week. The Cowboys have a one-week exemption to evaluate Irving, which means he can participate and practice without the team needing to make space on the 53-man roster.
If they want Irving to play Sunday night against Houston, though, they'll need to release a player to make room.
There's also injuries along the defensive line to consider. Maliek Collins has missed the last two games with a knee injury, and Antwaun Woods injured his calf during Sunday's game. Garrett said he's hopeful Woods will be able to practice this week, but it's possible the Cowboys could need Irving to play this weekend, regardless of his physical fitness – a fact that team owner/general manager Jerry Jones alluded to after the Lions game.
"There's always that shape thing, but he's so unique physically that I wouldn't dismiss him helping us win, especially since interior here, with Woods a question mark here, probably our interior is where we're the thinnest right now," Jones said.
Those are all issues that await the Cowboys as the week moves along. It's doubtful they'll know what Irving's role will be – or if he'll even have one – until after a few days of practice.
But when they hit the field on Wednesday, they'll have one of their most talented pass rushers back in the fold. That's a start, at least.