IRVING, Texas – He didn't speak to reporters, but Tuesday was Josh Brent's first work day as a member of the Cowboys' locker room, as the team returned from its Monday off day.
The Cowboys confirmed Sunday that Brent's suspension from league activities had been amended to allow him back to the team facility several weeks earlier than anticipated. He is still serving a 10-game suspension for the drunk driving accident that killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown, but he is now allowed to participate in team meetings.
"I think it's a really good thing for him to lay the foundation to get back," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Monday. "The biggest emphasis that we have with Josh is to make sure he gets himself settled back as a human being, as a man. We feel like being around football, his livelihood, his passion, can be good for him in that regard."
Brent cannot practice with the team until Week 9, which Garrett said he hopes will help smooth the transition back to football. Since the summer of 2013, Brent has retired from the game, gone to trial for intoxication manslaughter, been convicted, served jail time and followed that with a mandatory stint in rehab.
"I think it's set up the right way for him," Garrett said. "He has to stay in this mode for about four weeks before he can get back on the practice field, and I think that will allow him a good transition period to come back and be ready to go."
His teammates seem to think he's prepared. Tuesdays are the Cowboys' day to break down the previous game before beginning Wednesday's preparation for the upcoming opponent. In the short time he's been back, several said they've had the opportunity to speak with him.
"The growth is there. Just from conversations, he's on a different level right now," said Brandon Carr. "His head is in a different spot, and I'm looking forward to having back in the locker room, having him back on the team and hopefully helping us make some plays out there on the field." [embedded_ad]
Added Bruce Carter: "He looks good. He looks like he's in shape. You know he's got a smile on his face. He's got a great spirit to him, and I think that's going to be good for our team, especially on our defense."
Brent's situation plays similarly to Jakar Hamilton, who is returning from his four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy.
"You've just got to do the right thing, regardless," said Hamilton of the suspension, which was a result of a missed drug test. "You have a standard to live by, an agreement with the NFL. You must live by that. So I've learned a lot with this time off. I'm just ready to get back."
The Cowboys have a one-week exemption that will allow Hamilton to practice with the team this week without joining the roster. They would have to make a decision on him next week.