Mike McCarthy says Leighton Vander Esch “ahead of schedule”

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The Cowboys Defense could use any help it can get and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch may be able to provide some soon.

Vander Esch has been out since breaking his collarbone in the first game of the season, but the team designated him for return on Wednesday and he was on the practice field to take part in a padded practice Thursday. Head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged that just over three weeks is a quick return from that injury.

“I would say he’s ahead of schedule,” McCarthy said in his Thursday press conference. “He’s definitely champing at the bit to get back, there’s no question about that. But obviously there’s medical procedures and process that he must go through and clear. But the doctors and the trainers feel really good about where he is. If I would go off of my personal communication with him, he would’ve played in Week 2. So he’s really pushing it and wants to get back. We have to make sure he’s clear and ready to go.”

McCarthy said “the way he comes in tomorrow” will be significant in determining if Vander Esch could return to action against the Giants this week or if he’ll have to wait a little longer to return to his spot as a key part of the defense.