FRISCO, Texas – David Irving summed up his absence from the Cowboys' roster as only he could on Friday.
"It sucked, really," he said with a laugh.
Technically, Irving has been "back" with the Cowboys for almost two weeks, as his four-game suspension ended on Oct. 1. But Friday marked the first time the massive defensive end spoke publicly after a three-month absence forced him to watch his team from afar.
"I'm just seeing things like 'Man, I could've been out there helping there,'" Irving said. "But some things got in the way of that, and it is what it is."
It was more than just the four-game suspension. Irving has reportedly been in a contentious battle over custody of his daughter, among other personal matters that held him out of practice for much of last week and the early part of this week.
That's the latest development in what has been a trying year for Irving going back to the spring. The talented pass rusher has largely been absent for much of this year, going back to when he signed his restricted free agent tender. He wasn't present for OTAs and didn't play a large role at mandatory minicamp, but he did emphasize that football is a priority for him.
"I don't post a lot of videos of me working out or practicing, but that's probably because I'm working out and practicing," he said. "But yes, I love football and I am passionate. This is my No. 1 priority."
As much as Irving might prefer not to see his personal life in the news, he said he's learned not to let it get to him.
"Honestly, nothing really bothers me at this point," he said. "It was so tough back in April and whatnot that now nothing really bothers me. It just made me tougher."
Those personal issues appear to have subsided enough for Irving to come back to work. He returned to the Cowboys' facility on Thursday, and he has practiced two days in a row heading into the weekend.
Whether that means he'll be available to play against Jacksonville remains to be seen, but Irving said he'll be ready if called upon. Defensive captain Tyrone Crawford said this week that Irving is talented enough to make an impact despite not getting many reps – which Irving said he appreciated.
"I take that as a compliment," he said. "I feel good, I do. I feel good – but only time will tell. We'll see Sunday."
Until he once again takes the field for the Cowboys, Irving's off-field baggage is going to be a topic of discussion. But back within the friendly confines of his team's locker room, Irving said he's ready for a new start.
"I don't really know about the future. But as of now, just taking it day by day, I'm here," he said. "This is the start of my season."