FRISCO, Texas – Darren McFadden has officially moved back to the 53-man roster as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Cowboys activated the veteran running back from the Non-Football Injury list after a lengthy absence caused by a broken elbow. They released rookie running back Darius Jackson to make room on the roster.
The decision to release Jackson is at least mildly surprising, but the Cowboys were in a bit of a tough spot given their good overall health at this point in the season. Adding McFadden to the roster would have given them five total running backs, and Jackson had yet to appear in uniform for a regular season game.
The decision to activate McFadden gives the Cowboys a whopping three running backs with 1,000-yard seasons on their resumes. Ezekiel Elliott is currently sitting on 1,392 yards during his rookie campaign, and Alfred Morris posted totals of 1,613, 1,275 and 1,074 during his first three years with Washington.
McFadden led the Cowboys with 1,089 rushing yards last season, and he also enjoyed a 1,157-yard campaign in 2010 while with the Oakland Raiders.
The Cowboys could opt to sign Jackson to their practice squad, but he would have to clear waivers first. The front office liked him enough to draft him in the sixth round last spring, despite selecting Elliott fourth overall.
Tuesday’s deadline also marked the official decision to move Jaylon Smith to the injured reserve. The rookie linebacker is still recovering from a major knee injury suffered during his final collegiate game.
Smith has been working and rehabbing since the spring, and the Cowboys prolonged his availability as long as possible by keeping him on the NFI. The decision to move him to IR means he’ll be unavailable for the remainder of this season, but Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he still feels optimistic about Smith’s future.
“He's a cornerstone for us for the future. And I feel real good about the future,” he said Tuesday. “As a matter of fact, if we weren't just forced to, I wouldn't put him on inactive today. But it does not make sense to give up a player we know will be there to help us."