ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys have activated linebacker Rolando McClain from the Active Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, paving the way for him to return to practice on a limited basis Monday for the first time this year.
"We just feel like he's ready to practice," head coach Jason Garrett said.
McClain missed the entire voluntary offseason program and sat out the mandatory minicamp following a knee scope in June. He began training camp on Active/PUP and rehabbed with the athletic training staff throughout the Cowboys' month-long stay in Oxnard, Calif.
Garrett said McClain has done "a great job" staying in tune with the defense while sidelined.
"He's a really smart football player and he's a really interested football player," Garrett said. "He loves the game and you can see that. He loves talking about the game and talking ball and asking questions.
"He's one of those guys who sees the game really easily, and that's a great thing. He can help some of the younger players. The discussions with the coaches are always really at a very high level, and he's been certainly very engaged in all the different opportunities that he had."
McClain will serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He's eligible to participate in the remainder of preseason before his suspension takes effect, though Garrett wouldn't speculate on whether McClain would play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Texans at AT&T Stadium.
McClain is eligible to return from his four-game suspension on Monday, Oct. 5 after the team's Oct. 4 game against the Saints. Had he remained on the PUP list to start the regular season, he would've missed the first six weeks before being eligible to be activated.
McClain re-signed with the Cowboys in the offseason after ranking second on defense in tackles (108) and first in tackles for loss (9) in 2014 as an injury replacement for Lee at middle linebacker.
With Lee now healthy and moving to weakside linebacker this season, several players have worked at McClain's middle linebacker spot: Jasper Brinkley, Anthony Hitchens, Kyle Wilber, and most recently Andrew Gachkar. Hitchens is still recovering from a foot sprain that sidelined him for the latter half of training camp.