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Leighton Vander Esch cleared to play for Cowboys against Cardinals

The Cowboys are getting a big piece of their defense back for tonight’s game.

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images

The Wolf Hunter is back.

The Dallas Cowboys are getting a big piece of their defense back just in time for a Monday night game against the Arizona Cardinals. Vander Esch fractured his collarbone in the first game of the season against the Los Angeles Rams but has had a very speedy recovery.

The Dallas Cowboys activated the linebacker from injured reserve in time to play Monday against the Arizona Cardinals, five weeks after Vander Esch had surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Vander Esch has practiced the past two weeks and went through three full workouts, including one full-padded session, leading into the Cardinals game.

The Cowboys will need all the help they can get, especially from their linebackers, as they try to limit Kyler Murray’s rushing ability from the quarterback position. Vander Esch joins Jaylon Smith and Joe Thomas on the linebacking corps.

Smith commented on how Vander Esch has looked in practice.

Asked how Vander Esch looked following last Friday’s practice, Smith said, “He looks like the Wolf Hunter himself. I’m happy to have him back out here working, just grinding it away. Just excited for him. I’m just happy that he’s out being able to do what he loves.”

There was a report from the weekend that the Cowboys might use Vander Esch in a more limited capacity if he played on Monday night.

The Cowboys also added defensive tackle Justin Hamilton to the roster.