Dallas Cowboys defensive end David Irving was present for the first day of the mandatory minicamp on Tuesday most likely to avoid the $84,435 fine if he had missed all three days.
Irving missed all of the OTAs and was a sporadic participant in the Cowboys offseason program dealing with a myriad of personal issues, including false domestic violence allegations by an ex-girlfriend and serving as the sole caretaker of his daughter among other things.
Irving said he couldn’t really go into detail about what he is dealing with but offered one quote to the assembled media.
"It feels great to be back out there working with my boys,” Irving said. “I had a lot of stuff going on in the offseason as you all know and I'm working through it the best that I can and put it behind me and focus on the season."
All things considered, Tuesday was a good day for Irving. He was back with the Cowboys, although he worked largely on the side to get in shape because he has missed so much time.
The hope is that he has things together enough to be here every day going forward and work on getting in the best shape possible for training camp, which begins July 24.
“He’s been working through some personal issues that’s he had to kind of sort through,” coach Jason Garrett said. “And he’s worked very hard to get that right and he’s here and we do anticipate him being here going forward.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli didn’t know Irving was going to be at minicamp until he showed up Tuesday morning. He said he was excited to see him and made a point to not let outside issues get in the way of doing what he can to help him.
His message was simple.
“Now just lock in. Take care of your business, whatever you have to take care of, which he is going to and just move on to the next phase,” Marinelli said. “He’s getting things worked out great. Now it’s getting in groove and getting ready to go and having a great offseason.”
Marinelli said Irving, who has seven sacks in eight games last season, has unlimited potential if he can get focused and committed.
“Oh my gosh. He is unlimited. He is unlimited,” Marinelli gushed. “It’s part of our job to help him. We are going to do that.”
That there remain questions about Irving’s commitment and work ethic along with seemingly a laundry list of yearly problems is one reason the Cowboys gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender of $2.91 million, chancing him to be poached by another team in free agency.
No other team came after Irving, resulting in him signing his tender with the Cowboys. It appeared to be a good sign when he showed up for the first day of the offseason program.
But he was sporadic thereafter and then missed all of OTAs, which still doesn't sit well with veteran linebacker Sean Lee, who showed no sympathy for Irving’s litany of issues.
“It’s good to have him back out there,” Lee said. "He needs to be here on a more consistent basis. He needs to be working with us. He needs to get here. He needs to work with us. He can be a huge part of this team if he wants to be … He has to show the commitment … If he wants to take that next step as a pro he needs to be here committed all the time.”
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford is one of the few Cowboys who has talked to Irving regularly throughout the process.
He said he has gotten on him for not being around but then when he saw things Irving has had to deal with on his own, he took a step back.
Crawford believes Irving is ready to be fully committed but he said he cares about him getting his life together as a man and person first.
“Everybody has problems but I have been fortunate to have people in my corner to help deal with things,” Crawford said. But he does a lot of things on his own. He has his daughter. He got his reasons and I won’t fault him for it. I worry about the man first more than what he has to do here. He is my boy and I hope he can get everything right he needs to get right. He is working on those things and getting them behind him. That’s definitely progress. It’s good for him.”