FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys plan to welcome a familiar face back to the fold this week.
After spending most of the season on the Non-Football Injury list, Darren McFadden is expected to be called up to the 53-man roster on Tuesday. As of right now, though, the Cowboys haven't determined what roster move they'll make to get him activated.
"We anticipate bringing him up. We haven't made our final decision as to how we're going to get that done," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "We have until I believe three o'clock tomorrow, so we'll continue to have those discussions."
McFadden has been out of sight, out of mind since June, when he broke his elbow just before the start of the Cowboys' mandatory minicamp. He has been on the Non-Football Injury list ever since, keeping him off the active roster during his recovery.
The Cowboys brought McFadden back to practice in late November, thereby opening a three-week window for him to practice with the team while still remaining on the NFI. If he isn't moved to the active roster by Tuesday afternoon, he'll revert to the injured reserve.
Rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith is facing similar circumstances, as he continues to recover from the major knee injury he suffered last January. Given that Smith has yet to partake in an NFL practice, it's expected that he'll be moved to injured reserve on Tuesday.
As for McFadden, the Cowboys are likely to have some interesting conversations regarding their roster. With no major injuries to speak of, it seems likely the team will have to release a healthy player to make room for the veteran running back.
The Cowboy currently have four running backs on the active roster, so it'd be hard to imagine them employing a fifth. There's also been speculation about the job status of Lucky Whitehead, who the team left off the trip to New York after he missed meetings on Saturday morning.
Whatever decision they come to, Garrett said those conversations are still ongoing.
It's strange to think now, given the success of Ezekiel Elliott, but McFadden was the Cowboys' leading rusher in 2015 with 1,089 yards and three touchdowns. He took over as the starting running back in Week 6 and averaged 4.56 yards per carry for the season.