Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving expects to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars after a chaotic offseason that included a four-game suspension, substance abuse rehab and an ongoing child custody battle with ex-girlfriend Angela Sanchez over their five-year old daughter Zoe.
The latter has caused him to miss practice four days of practices and meetings and last Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans over the last week since being officially cleared to return from suspension.
And while he has a court date on Wednesday that might cause him to miss practice again, he said he is back ready to go and 100 percent focused on football.
“The whole offseason has been chaos, chaotic in every manner of the world,” Irving said. “It feels good to be back. It’s been a long offseason. I am glad it’s officially over.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“I don’t really know about the future. As a now, I am taking it day by day. I am here. This is the start of my season.”
Irving declined to talk about the custody case with his ex-girlfriend because it is under seal.
The circumstances remain surreal. He was given primary custody of his daughter by a Collin County court in May.
Last Friday before the Houston game, Sanchez got a temporary restraining order against him and took custody of the baby from her elementary school.
Irving has not seen or talked his daughter since.
The ongoing battle is the reason the Cowboys have shown patience with Irving through the situation while offering as much support as they can, per vice president Stephen Jones.
Jones said they know much he loves and cares for his daughter.
Likewise, Irving is appreciative of the support he has received from the Jones family, the coaching staff and his teammates.
“Tremendous support. They have helped me. It’ been a long offseason,” Irving said. “I have been through a lot of (expletive). It’s really good I have had the support. I probably wouldn’t be here. I am forever grateful.”
Irving said he is in a good place mentally and physically and ready to play.
“Nothing really bothers me at this point,” Irving said. “It was tough in April but now nothing bothers me. It has just made me tougher.”
Friday was just the third practice for Irving since last November when he missed the final four games of the 2017 season with a concussion.
He was absent throughout the offseason program and OTAs because of ongoing family issues after gaining custody of his daughter. He returned for minicamp to avoid being fined but was out of shape and only did conditioning work.
Irving was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He then missed all of training camp going through drug rehab.
He officially returned to the team last week following the conclusion of the suspension but practiced just one day before getting caught again in his personal family issues that caused him to miss practice and the game.
He says he is fit and ready to play despite the limited practice because he spent time while away from time in training camp doing MMA workouts at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance gym in Hollywood and lost 30 pounds.
Irving said the coaches want to play him 10-15 snaps against the Jaguars Sunday but he knows better.
“That’s what they say now but if it’s a close game, I know good and well (defensive coordinator Rod) Marinelli is going to be sending me out there and putting me through the ringer,” Irving said. “I’m ready for it.”
Irving is ready for it because he can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel following a dark offseason. He watched his teammates play the first five games without him by himself.
“It sucked really, wishing I was out there,” Irving said. “I had to learn a new defense. I’m just seeing things and I’m like, man, I could’ve been out there helping them. But some things got in the way of that. And it is what it is.”
Irving also wants it clear that he is 100 percent committed and focused football, though he does have varying interest in other things, including acting.
After what he has gone through this offseason and understanding the toll it has taken on his life and his career, he said he is more focused than ever.
“Football is my primary focus,” Irving said. “It is what I am focused on right now. I am passionate about it. I am starting to see the light. Getting back in here is really helping me out. Being around the teammates. Being on a schedule playing football. That is what I love.”