FRISCO, Texas – An average day for David Irving these last several weeks:
"I would wake up, go lift weights, run, get a little conditioning in, go eat, take a nap, wake up, play video games and go to sleep," he said.
Rinse, repeat. All without any contact with the Cowboys organization, per the rules of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Irving returned to the facility Tuesday now that his suspension is complete. He's set to practice with his teammates Wednesday.
"You take it for granted when you're here, when you're tired and doing the Wednesday practices full gear and all that," he said. "You're gone and you really miss being sore and tired and hate waking up.
"It was pretty hard. But it kept me focused. It kept me hungry."
The Cowboys have a one-game roster exemption for their 24-year-old defensive lineman, meaning they don't have to activate Irving this week leading up to Sunday's home game against the Packers. If Irving is activated this week, the team must create an open roster spot.
"He had a good training camp for us, had a good preseason for us," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "Hopefully in this time off, he's done what he's supposed to do each day to get himself ready to go."
Last season Irving ranked fourth on the defense in sacks (4.0) and first in quarterback pressures (26).
He did his best to stay in football shape while unable to be around the team – lifting, running, even some boxing exercises to improve cardio and hand speed.
"I've been putting in some work," he said.
Watching the games at home, alone, wasn't easy. But Irving said he took mental notes to apply on the field once he was eligible to return.
If active against the Packers, Irving can offer versatility at defensive tackle or end. Last October's trip to Lambeau Field was arguably his best game as a pro. He forced three fumbles in only 19 defensive snaps and the Cowboys won, 30-16, in a highly-anticipated matchup against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay won the rematch in the NFC divisional playoffs.
What's in store for his potential season debut Sunday?
"I'm just going to prepare like I would prepare any other time, any other game and get out there and see what I can do for the team," he said.