For the third year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys will begin the season without a key defensive player. According to multiple reports, defensive end David Irving, who had a breakout year in 2016, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the leagues performance-enhancing drug policy.
According to ESPN, the ban is a result of Irving using a substance provided to him as part of an endorsement deal.
The ban isnt official yet as Irving can still appeal the ruling, but if it holds up, this is a fairly significant blow for the Cowboys. Two years ago, Greg Hardy was suspended to start the year. Last season, it was both Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Irving is in line to make it three years in a row.
Even with the 6-foot-7 pass rusher, the Cowboys are seriously thin at defensive end. Rookie Taco Charlton will be expected to contribute right away, but Lawrence has done little up to this point, and Tyrone Crawford is more of a defensive tackle.
Irving started two games last year, proving to be Dallas most productive pass rusher late in the season. He had four sacks, 26 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles in 2016, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his three-forced-fumble performance against the Packers.