Defensive end David Irving is heading into the off-season hoping to get in better shape and stay out of trouble so he can build on his 2017 success and play more than eight games in 2018.
He missed the first four games under NFL suspension for taking a banned supplement and the final four games because of a concussion.
But first, he must finally rid himself of the headaches that have plagued him over the last month, dating to the Cowboys’ victory against the Redskins on Nov. 30.
The headaches are not as severe and don’t last as long as they did.
His lapses of memory are fewer and his speech has improved as well.
“It’s hard to put my words in order,” Irving said of symptoms he’s experienced at times over the previous 32 days. “I’ll be talking and I’ll know what I want to say but then when it’s time to talk, I can’t say it. I look like a deer caught in headlights.”
“I couldn’t have said that a few weeks ago,” Irving continued after a pause. “I wouldn’t have thought of that. But yeah, it’s getting better, getting easier.”
Irving admitted being scared initially. He stayed in the game against the Redskins after suffering the concussion in the first quarter in hopes of getting some sacks even though he knew he wasn’t right. So he didn’t tell team doctors that he was disoriented.
He even talked to the media after the game.
But the problems started the next day and Irving hasn’t played since.
“It wasn’t just headaches,” Irving said. “It was confusion, just forgetting things. It did scare me at first. You know for a while it didn’t seem like it was getting better. I’ve never really had one this bad.”
“I’ll be looking for my phone and it’s like right in my hand and I’m just looking everywhere for it,” Irving added. “But that hasn’t happened for a couple of weeks now.”
Irving said he didn’t know concussions lasted this long and believes staying the game made it worse. He said he might even start wearing a mouthpiece.
But Irving is feeling better and focused on building upon a season in which he had seven sacks in eight games.
He will be restricted free agent in the off-season and the Cowboys will likely put a premium tender on him to avoiding losing him.
“It’s a bad season,” Irving said. “I missed eight games. That’s not good. I keep thinking what if I had played all the games. Come back year. Stay the hell out of trouble. Hopefully, I won’t get injured. And see what I can do next year.”
Stay out of trouble?
“Watch what I ingest,” he said. “Watch what I do. Be smart.”