IRVING, Texas – The first day of OTA practices saw a fair share of new faces. Most of them were rookies just trying to learn the system, while some of the veterans were out there knocking off the rust.
Defensive end Anthony Hargrove was doing a little bit of both. Recently signed by the Cowboys, Hargrove felt like a rookie at times, learning a new system. But it's also the first time in nearly a year he's been on a practice field of any kind.
Hargrove was out of football in 2012, serving a suspension as part of the Saints' bounty-gate scandal that accused the organization of paying players to injure opponents. Hargrove received an eight-game suspension that was later lifted. Still, the damage was done and Hargrove hasn't forgotten.
"If you lost a year of paychecks, how would you feel?" Hargrove asked on Tuesday. "Playing football is what I do for a living. They took my earning power away. That's the main thing. But I don't worry about what the league has done. I just play ball."
Hargrove is excited about doing just that with the Cowboys, who could use some depth at defensive end behind starters Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. Hargrove has played a variety of positions in both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes.
"I just play where they need me," he said. "It looks like it will be (defensive) end, but I feel like I can do whatever. I'm just excited about this opportunity."
Hargrove has just seven years of experience over the last nine seasons. Suspensions for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy wiped out his 2008 campaign and then last year he spent waiting and wondering how the Saints scandal would shake out.
Hargrove admits there was a time this offseason when he wasn't sure if the phone would ever ring again.
"It definitely stopped ringing," he said. "I didn't know. But I kept working hard and just stayed ready at all times. You just never know what's going to happen. The way last year unfolded, nothing surprises me now. I'm putting it behind me and trying to move forward. I had to deal with it. It's a new day in my life. I'm trying to continue my career and finish up in a strong way."