Orlando Scandrick 'excited, relieved'

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick returned to the team's Valley Ranch practice facility upbeat and "with a whole lot to prove" after he was reinstated following the finalization of the NFL's new drug policy Wednesday.

Scandrick was originally suspended for four games under the league's previous performance-enhancing drug policy due to a positive test for amphetamine, the result of his admitted use of the recreational drug MDMA during an April vacation in Mexico.

He missed the first two games of the season, but Scandrick's suspension was officially lifted Wednesday when the NFL and the NFL Players Association finalized a new drug policy that does not classify offseason amphetamine use in the performance-enhancing category.

"It's good to be out here," Scandrick said after participating in Wednesday's practice. "It's good to get my feet underneath me. I feel like I pick up right where I left off. I feel good, I'm excited, I'm relieved, I'm thankful. I can't even put into words how I feel."

Scandrick spent the last two weeks in his hometown of Los Angeles, working out with a personal trainer. He watched the Cowboys' games on television.

"That was tough, sitting back and not being able to play," Scandrick said. "I was pretty much handcuffed. It was like my career was dangling in front of me. It wasn't over, but I couldn't have it. I mean I couldn't go out and get another job. Adversity builds character. I feel like I'm coming back, I'm mentally stronger and I'm just ready to play and help this team win.

"I've got a whole lot to prove. I missed two games and I want to pick up where I left off. All of my goals, my season goals are right ahead of me. That was the biggest thing."

Scandrick, a seven-year veteran, started the final 15 games of last season and had the best year of his career. Coach Jason Garrett was coy about whether Scandrick would return as a starter.

Morris Claiborne, who lost the starting job to Scandrick last season, started the Cowboys' first two games with Sterling Moore playing the slot role in the nickel package usually manned by Scandrick.

"We're going to see how he does in practice today," Garrett said when asked about Scandrick's role. "We believe in competitive situations. We don't have any doctrines about if a guy's a starter when he gets hurt, does he come back as starter? We look at the guys, see who can help and what role they can help us in. He's certainly been a good player for us. The other guys have played well in his absence. Excited to have him back."

Scandrick deferred to Garrett when asked whether he worked with the starters during Wednesday's practice.

"I don't control who plays," Scandrick said, "but I would like to hope as the head coach of this football team that we would play the best players."