ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys activated Leighton Vander Esch, clearing the way for the linebacker to play against Arizona on Monday night five weeks and a day after breaking his collarbone in the opener.
Vander Esch, who was limited to nine games last year by a neck injury, started practicing two weeks ago and was a full participant leading up to the home game against the Cardinals. He was injured in the first half of the 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 13.
The return of the starting middle linebacker should help a defense that gave up more yards and points in the first four weeks than any in franchise history.
Dallas was better defensively in last week's 37-34 win over the New York Giants, who returned an interception for a touchdown and scored another TD on a short field after a fumble.
The Cowboys placed quarterback Dak Prescott and defensive tackle Trysten Hill on season-ending injured reserve. Prescott sustained a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle against the Giants, and Hill tore a knee ligament.
Dallas filled the second roster spot by bringing up defensive tackle Justin Hamilton from the practice squad.