IRVING, Texas – Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent's trial date on charges of intoxication manslaughter is set for Sept. 23, after the start of the NFL season.
Brent was the driver in a collision that killed his teammate and friend, Jerry Brown, in early December. Brent's blood-alcohol level was reportedly twice the legal limit, and he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The tackle's NFL career was on the rise prior to the accident, posting 22 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 12 games. He served as a primary replacement at nose tackle while Jay Ratliff was hurt.
It's possible Brent won't play this season, regardless of the ruling. Front office members and coaches have said they will wait until the legal process continues and the NFL rules on his status before making any permanent decisions. The team put Brent on the reserve non-football injury list after the incident.
Brent's status complicates the Cowboys' switch to the 4-3. He could have competed for a starting role as a tackle in the new scheme. Unless the Cowboys draft a player or sign a free agent, they'll now only have Ratliff, Sean Lissemore, Jason Hatcher, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and Robert Callaway as possible starting tackle candidates, and it's likely at least a couple of those athletes play defensive end.
The team and Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, have stood by Brent since the accident. [embedded_ad] Head coach Jason Garrett said during the season that it's important the players and coaches support Brent, without condoning his actions. Brent, who now dons an electronic ankle bracelet, is still free to be around his teammates and coaches.