IRVING, Texas – It still feels early in the season, but the Cowboys are edging closer to a midseason boost to their pass rush with the nearing returns of both DeMarcus Lawrence and Josh Brent.
Lawrence will take key steps toward playing for the Cowboys when the team returns to work this week. Lawrence, who is on short-term injured reserve after breaking his foot in July, will be eligible to practice for the first time since training camp when the team takes the field Wednesday.
"He's done really well, worked hard. So we're hopeful he can do some football stuff on Wednesday and get himself moving forward," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
The short-term IR designation means that Lawrence was inactive – and ineligible to participate in practice – during the first six weeks of the season. He will be able to practice during Weeks 7 and 8, and he will finally be able to play in a game in Week 9, which is the Nov. 2 home game against Arizona.
The Cowboys traded away their third-round pick in last year's draft to jump up and snag Lawrence at No. 34 overall. The progress he was able to make during the early portion of training camp encouraged the Cowboys coaching staff, but Garrett said Lawrence needs to start slow.
"Come to meetings, come to walkthrough, come to practice the right way, and we'll see how you're doing. We'll see what kind of role he can have," he said. "He was certainly doing some good things before he got hurt, and we're optimistic about his future and his ability to contribute this year."
Lawrence could be joined by Josh Brent as mid-season difference makers for this Dallas defense. Much like the rookie, Brent is rapidly nearing the day when he'll be eligible to contribute for the Cowboys.
Brent is still serving a 10-game suspension for the drunk driving accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown in December 2012. The NFL amended his suspension to allow him to attend team meetings and work out at the Cowboys' Valley Ranch facility. Garrett compared Brent's limited participation so far to that of Jakar Hamilton, when the second-year safety was suspended for Weeks 1-4.
"He can go to meetings and he can work out with the strength staff," Garrett said.
The amended terms of Brent's suspension state he'll be able to practice in Week 9, as the Cowboys prepare for the Cardinals. He won't be eligible to play until after the bye week, when the team travels to New York to play the Giants.
The fact remains: not one, but two big pieces of the Cowboys' pass rush should be back at practice by the end of October.
"Certainly, we will try to have a plan for those guys. The big thing for each of those guys is they've got to get themselves ready," Garrett said. "We have a lot of resources to help them, but they've got to get themselves right, get themselves healthy, get their football feet back underneath them and we will see what their roles are when they come back."