IRVING, Texas – Given everything that's befallen this team in the last month, it's easy to forget that Greg Hardy was once part of it.
It feels like ancient history when Hardy routinely lined up at practices in Oxnard, Calif., before his four-game suspension sidelined him for the start of the regular season. There's no doubt he's missed a lot in the preceding month, but Hardy said Tuesday that experience was a big one.
"I had a good offseason and a good camp. We were all there," he said. "I got to be a part of the group and got to get off the ball with a good group of defensive ends and some defensive tackles and get back to the swing of things."
Given his lengthy absence from football – Hardy has only played in one regular season game since 2013 – that offseason work could pay dividends for the Cowboys. The Pro Bowler is the first of several absences to return to a defensive line that has been lacking in recent weeks.
"He's hard working player, high-motor player. He's going to do whatever it takes to get to where he needs to be," said Tyron Smith.
Smith was on hand for Hardy's introduction to the Dallas media on Tuesday, considering his locker is just two spots away in the Cowboys' locker room. The matchup of those two was one of the most-anticipated matchups of training camp, and Hardy was happy it could pick back up at regular season practices.
"Favorite part of my day -- favorite and worst part of my day," Hardy said of Smith. "Flashback to that Pro Bowl every single day, getting jacked in the face 24 plays in a row. It makes me a phenomenal player in practice and hopefully it carries over this weekend, carries over to the game and we can just produce on both sides of the ball."
The Cowboys will need whatever kind of bump they can get this week, as they welcome the undefeated New England Patriots and Tom Brady to AT&T Stadium. Hardy was asked how he viewed the challenge of preparing for the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
"The same way I did last time I saw him -- hopefully on the ground," he said.