Mark Nzeocha is set to make his professional debut Sunday at Tampa Bay, giving the Dallas Cowboys additional linebacker depth.
Coach Jason Garrett said the team will activate Nzeocha off the non-football injury list, and use him to bolster a depleted linebacker corps.
The Cowboys are expected to be without Sean Lee (concussion), and other linebackers such as Anthony Hitchens and Rolando McClain should play but are nursing injuries.
The Cowboys cleared a spot for Nzeocha on the roster by releasing third-string quarterback Kellen Moore.
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“We needed to get another linebacker number up,” Garrett said. “So that really was the essence of the decision.”
Nzeocha, a seventh-round pick, has been practicing for the past couple of weeks, as he has been rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he sustained as a senior at Wyoming in October 2014.
“We anticipated him being on this timetable,” Garrett said. “He had an ACL surgery last year and we knew that it was going to take him time. We knew that we weren’t going to see him in the offseason or training camp or the early part of this season, but he’s worked very hard to come back.
“He’s stayed very engaged with our team which has been a positive thing. He’s felt good in practice the last couple weeks so hopefully he’ll get a shot this week.”
Nzeocha is older than most prospects (25), and didn’t start playing football until he was 14. Over his college career at Wyoming, he had 207 tackles and three sacks, including 101 tackles his junior season in 2013.