IRVING, Texas – Chaz Green's debut season isn't really even underway yet, but it might not have ever gotten off the ground.
The Cowboys activated their rookie offensive tackle from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday afternoon, making him a member of the 53-man roster. The alternative was to send Green to season-ending injured reserve, so the decision was a big one for the 23-year-old.
"I knew it could have went either way, so I was just staying ready, doing what I can, focusing on the positives and things that I can control," Green said.
Green had a high-profile draft slot, as the Cowboys selected him No. 91 overall out of Florida in the spring. He never had much of a chance to make an impact, though, as he was limited during OTAs and then underwent hip surgery in June.
There was some offseason speculation that Green could contend for the swing tackle job left vacant by Jermey Parnell. With the rookie out injured, the Cowboys turned toward Darrion Weems, but eventually signed veteran tackle Charles Brown to handle the job.
The PUP list designation allowed for the possibility that Green could join the roster after Week 6, but he admitted there were times he was unsure if he'd see the field during his rookie campaign.
"There's definitely some doubts that you have – just seeing how the year unfolds," he said. "It's, what, like Week 12 now? So that definitely went through my mind at times, but I just made sure I remained positive and focused on the things I can control."
NFL rules allowed for Green to practice these last three weeks without the team needing to activate him, so the rookie has been involved in game preparations since mid-November. That trial period was enough to convince the coaching staff to bring him on board.
"He's done a good job -- decided it was important for him to be up and be a part of the 53," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He's got to go to work every day. He's got the right mindset, he's got the right mentality to do that. He works hard and he's going to get better."
Green is not a stranger to injury, as he missed parts of his freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida with various injuries. He also missed the entire 2013 season with a torn labrum. Nearly six months out from this latest surgery, though, he said he feels sufficiently past the injury from a physical and mental standpoint.
"bviously, I've had some stuff before, and I can play through a lot of stuff, so you're trying to manage whether it's smart," he said. "You're going to feel some stuff coming off of a surgery – that's just common. It's just getting to that point where you know it's not going to set you back."
Green was confident he's reached that point, so it now becomes a matter of contributing. It remains to be seen what the Cowboys envision for their rookie with just five weeks left in the season, but Green said he's ready to play his part.
"I just want to get in and continue to prove to these coaches and the rest of the linemates – they've proved a lot in that room. I just want to let them know that I can contribute, I can help," he said. "I want to do that with my play and not the things that I'm saying. That's pretty much what I want to do, and if my number is called, I'll make sure I'm ready to go."