<
>

Cowboys ready to adjust if David Irving is suspended

FRISCO, Texas -- When the first-team Dallas Cowboys defense took the field for Wednesday's organized team activity, David Irving was the left defensive end.

Whether he will be there Sept. 10 for the season opener against the New York Giants will depend on the result of an appeal of what sources have called a looming four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.

Head coach Jason Garrett did not bite on questions regarding Irving's status.

"We don’t want to comment on any speculation," Garrett said. "If some ruling comes down with him or any other player then we'll comment on it."

If Irving is suspended, he would be able to continue to take part in all of the offseason practices, training camp practices and preseason games. So for now he works like he did last year: all over the defensive line.

"We'll just see," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "Let the whole process work how all that happens, but you just keep coaching him right now. He's got to practice, so we coach him and get him better."

The Cowboys want -- and need -- Irving to be a difference-making player up front. He displayed those traits over the final month of last season with three of his four sacks. He led the Cowboys with 26 quarterback pressures.

A possible suspension would be disappointing. It would mark the fourth straight year the defense would be without a significant contributor at the start of the season: Orlando Scandrick (2014), Greg Hardy (2015), Rolando McClain (2015, 2016), DeMarcus Lawrence (2016) and Randy Gregory (2016, 2017) for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, PED policy or personal conduct policy.

"I think the biggest thing is you can't overreact until everything is made, all the decisions are made," Marinelli said. "So we'll just wait on the decision. But I'm always one that just moves forward. Somebody else likes playing ball. I just coach the guys that are here."

Irving's potential suspension has added questions to Garrett's right-kind-of-guy ethos that he has attempted to bring to the Cowboys' roster. Dallas took calculated chances on players like Hardy, Gregory and McClain. Hardy was gone after one season. McClain's first season (2014) was very good, but he failed himself the past two seasons and will not play for the Cowboys again. Gregory's career could be over after just 14 games with a suspension that will keep him out for the entire 2017 season.

Irving was not drafted largely because of off-field issues at Iowa State, but he has not been a problem-child for the Cowboys.

"We absolutely have the right kind of guys in our locker room," Garrett said. "Anybody who has ever spent any time with the guys on our football team understands that. Just really high-character guys. They're great people on the field, they're great people off the field, they work very hard at it. They understand what being part of a team is and the sacrifices and the work that's necessary to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys team. They get that. That doesn't mean people are infallible. We make mistakes every day, as coaches, as staff members and as players. Hopefully you're accountable for your mistakes, you learn from them and you move on."