Help appears to be on the way for the Cowboys ailing defensive line in the form of former first-round pick Amobi Okoye, who has been on the non-football injury list since the start of training camp.
Owner Jerry Jones said Okoye has been cleared to practice after missing all of the offseason with an undisclosed illness. The defensive tackle, picked 10th overall by the Houston Texans in 2007, has not played football since 2012 when he was with the Bears.
“Okoye has been cleared,” Jones said Thursday. “He’ll be meeting us in Dallas. He’s been in Boston and got cleared on his illness and can have contact. He’s been working to get in shape. We were hoping the timing would fit to give us some reps in there.”
Okoye still must pass a physical with the Cowboys before he is allowed to practice, so his return is not imminent. But he has cleared the first big hurdle toward getting back on the field for first time in almost two years.
“I don’t anticipate (Okoye practicing Monday), but I know we have a three-stage conditioning (process),” Jones said. “He has been in the second stage and working toward the third stage. I don’t think he’s reached the third, but he’ll be in there real close.”
It is what the Cowboys were hoping for when they took a chance on signing Okoye, 27, to a two-year deal in May.
Okoye was a disappointment in Houston, but his history with the Bears and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is what intrigues the Cowboys.
Okoye had 36 total tackles and five sacks in 25 games in two years under Marinelli in Chicago.
His 16 career sacks in 87 games since 2007 is more than any lineman on the Cowboys’ roster aside from defensive ends Anthony Spencer and Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Henry Melton.