FRISCO, Texas – It was just a walk-through, but a positive step forward for running back Darren McFadden: the veteran running back was back on the practice field Monday with his Cowboys teammates for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery in mid-June.
McFadden's return to practice starts a three-week window for the Cowboys to decide whether to activate him from the Non-Football Injury list to the 53-man roster or place him on Reserve/Injured.
"Just try to get him integrated back into our team," head coach Jason Garrett said, "and this week is a little bit tricky just because of the game on Thursday so you're not having a full practice that you typically would. But he's back in meetings and he's on the practice field and getting him moving around and get him integrated back into our football team."
If he's ultimately moved to the active roster, a role for last year's team-leading rusher (1,089 yards) is unclear. Running back is arguably the Cowboys' deepest position, with veterans Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar backing up league-leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott (1,102) all season.
McFadden, who has missed all of training camp and the first 10 games, has worked with the athletic training staff to regain strength and range of motion in his elbow.
"The one thing I always tell people, if this was last year and I was having to do this right now I'd be a wreck right now," McFadden said, referring to the Cowboys' 4-12 record in 2015. "The fact that we're winning, we've been playing winning ballgames, our offense has been playing great, defense playing great, I'm just happy about that. I'm just ready to get out there and get some action when I get a chance."
What about his role if and when he's moved back to the 53?
"For me, I'm a ballplayer man," he said. "Whatever they want me to do, whether it's just going out on special teams or whatever. Hell, even if they wanted me to play defense, I would."