IRVING, Texas – Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye believes he'll be ready to play in Week 7 when he's eligible to return off the non-football injury list.
Okoye's still working to get his weight up where he wants it to be as he recovers from anti-NMDA encephalitis, a serious and rare brain condition that left him in a medically-induced coma only a year and a half ago.
Now, he's not only healthy enough to do conditioning work, but he's also ready for contact. Okoye was cleared for conditioning work in August and said he'll "definitely" be ready to go when he's eligible to return Week 7 against the Giants.
"It's definitely been tough," Okoye said. "I mean, first of all, I had to sit out all of last year, then had to sit out another six weeks. But it is what it is. I was pretty bummed out the first time when I was put on the list, but I took it for what it is. I needed more time to get better."
Okoye hasn't played in a game since December 2012. The Cowboys have been cautious in working him back up to speed, and all he could do during training camp was watch. That's something the Cowboys were prepared for when they signed him in May.
"You've just got to do a lot of conditioning stuff," Okoye said. "As the time comes close to that, you do more. All you can do is just get yourself ready for when you can actually practice." [embedded_ad]
The defensive tackle's not only in position now to put a potentially fatal brain disease behind him, but also return to the game he loves. Even when others doubted it, the 27-year-old, who's got 16 sacks in the league since entering in 2007 and a lot of experience with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, said he never lost hope that a return would be possible.
"I never looked at it that way, because I don't believe that," Okoye said. "I believe that I'm still young enough to play a couple more years. I think that's what I'm put on this Earth to do, is play football."
The NFI list is similar to the physically unable to perform list, keeping players out at least the first six weeks of the season. If all goes to plan, Okoye feels prepared to get back to the field once again Oct. 19 when he's eligible to return, if the Cowboys choose to activate him immediately.