NFL teams
Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer 45d

Dallas Cowboys' Leighton Vander Esch cleared to play Monday night

NFL, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals

FRISCO, Texas -- Leighton Vander Esch is back.

The Dallas Cowboys activated the linebacker from injured reserve in time to play Monday against the Arizona Cardinals, five weeks after Vander Esch had surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Vander Esch has practiced the past two weeks and went through three full workouts, including one full-padded session, leading into the Cardinals game.

Vander Esch had four tackles before he was hurt in the first quarter against the Rams. Jaylon Smith took over as the defensive signal-caller in Vander Esch's absence, and Joe Thomas moved into his middle linebacker spot.

On Saturday, coach Mike McCarthy said he was encouraged that Vander Esch would be able to return after he made it through two practices without any issue.

Asked how Vander Esch looked following last Friday's practice, Smith said, "He looks like the Wolf Hunter himself. I'm happy to have him back out here working, just grinding it away. Just excited for him. I'm just happy that he's out being able to do what he loves."

The Cowboys placed quarterback Dak Prescott and defensive tackle Trysten Hill on injured reserve. Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle and Hill tore his anterior cruciate ligament in last week's win against the New York Giants.

The Cowboys signed practice-squad defensive tackle Justin Hamilton to the active roster to replace Hill and called up safety Steven Parker and center Marcus Henry from the practice squad.

Also on Monday, the Cowboys planned to activate Cam Erving off injured reserve to serve as the swing tackle Monday against the Cardinals but he reported some sickness in the morning. The next option was to place him on the reserve/COVID-19 list but that was not allowed, according to sources; Erving and the entire organization has tested negative. Erving remains on IR and is eligible to return next week.

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