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Cowboys activate Rolando McClain off PUP

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- By the weekend Rolando McClain will have to say goodbye to the Dallas Cowboys because of a suspension, but the linebacker has at least been able to say hello during training camp.

The Cowboys activated McClain off the physically unable to perform list on Monday and he will take part in a limited portion of the practice at AT&T Stadium. It is McClain's first on-field, team action in a practice since last season's playoff run.

He missed the organized team activities and June minicamp because of surgery to his right knee and opened training camp on PUP.

"We just feel like he's ready to practice," coach Jason Garrett said.

McClain will be suspended for the first four games of the season due to violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. After the final cuts, he will not be allowed to be around the team again until Oct. 5, after the Cowboys take on the New Orleans Saints a day earlier.

McClain stepped up his rehab late during the team's time in Oxnard, California. This is their first full practice back in Texas, but they practice just once more before Thursday's preseason finale against the Houston Texans. With little to gain by playing, McClain will likely sit out that contest.

At present, defensive end Greg Hardy will also miss the first four games of the regular season due to violating the league's personal conduct policy. He has yet to make a decision on whether to seek the court's help in getting his initial 10-game suspension reduced even more.

McClain's time away -- and Hardy's to a degree -- from the team is a concern for the Cowboys.

"You can make a compelling argument that the best place for the suspended players to be is with their teammates and with their football team," Garrett said. "But that's not the way the rules are in the league. Hopefully we have responsible enough guys on our team who are going to take care of themselves and handle their business the way they need to and when they come back, they're ready to go."

McClain was a difference maker for the Cowboys last year. In 12 games, the coaches credited him with 108 tackles, one sack, nine tackles for loss, five quarterback pressures, two interceptions, five pass deflections and one forced fumble.

The Cowboys considered keeping McClain on PUP for the start of the season, which would have allowed him to continue to rehab with the team while serving the suspension. He would have missed just one more game had he stayed on PUP with players missing the first six weeks. The Cowboys have a Week 5 bye this year.

"That was the trade off," Garrett said. "It matters. There's only 16 of them."