David Irving couldn’t talk to any Dallas Cowboys coaches or staff, or be at the team’s facility, during his four-game suspension to start the season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
So Irving was responsible himself for staying in shape and making sure he’d be ready to go when he returned. Irving feels he is after working out at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney throughout his suspension and credits going through boxing workouts there as a reason why.
Boxing is something that helped Irving in the past. He lost 43 pounds by going through boxing and MMA training to prepare for his pro day after being kicked out of Iowa State before the 2015 NFL Draft.
“Cardio man, it’s a lot of cardio and hand speed,” Irving said. “I figured I would mix it in. I was doing all types of cardio, metabolics, and I did this little MMA circuit thing. It was ridiculous, mixed in some boxing. It’s really good cardio. It works on hand speed, shoulder stability, things like that.”
Boxing is not unheard of for defensive linemen, of course. Ed “Too Tall” Jones briefly pursued a professional boxing career during his time with the Cowboys in 1979.
Jones went 6-0 with five knockouts, and Irving feels he could do well in MMA or boxing. But he’s not looking to switch sports anytime soon.
Instead, Irving believes the training will translate to making a smooth transition back to the defensive line rotation.
This is a guy who had four sacks, five tackles for loss, 26 quarterback pressures and forced four fumbles in 15 games, including two starts, last season.
That included a standout game against the Packers in which Irving forced three fumbles and had a sack in 19 snaps in earning NFC defensive player of the week honors.
“Hopefully I can try to have another game like that,” Irving said. “I will be playing a little on the inside, actually all cross the defensive line, so we’ll see how it turns out.”
Irving, 24, had eight tackles and a forced fumble this preseason before serving his suspension.
The Cowboys have a roster exemption this week for Irving and won’t have to make a move until Saturday if he plays against Green Bay.
All signs point to him doing so.
“It’s been on my mind every day, thinking about getting back out there, staying out of trouble, keeping my head down, trying to get in the best shape possible to come back and help my boys,” Irving said.