OXNARD, Calif. — The door remains open for linebacker Rolando McClain's return to the Cowboys despite failed drug tests for opiates, but club officials don't appear to be optimistic he'll walk through it.
McClain hasn't reported to training camp and is facing a 10-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Discussions about why the Cowboys have not cut the troubled player paint a complex picture.
McClain failed his most recent drug tests because he tested positive for opiates, not marijuana as has plagued him in the past. McClain is dealing with an addiction to codeine — an opiate — through the use of "purple drank," slang for a concoction that includes a prescription-strength cough syrup often mixed with Sprite.
McClain's impact on the salary cap remains unchanged until his 10-game suspension is completed, meaning there is no reason for the club to force the issue at this time.
But much more than salary cap ramifications cloud McClain's future. The Cowboys' starting middle linebacker is in Stage 3 — the final stage — of the NFL's substance abuse policy. If he has been told to enter a treatment facility and doesn't comply, he faces a minimum one-year ban from the NFL.
If that ban is imposed, the door would almost assuredly close on McClain's future in Dallas.
The league administers the substance abuse program, so it remains unclear if the NFL's medical director has required McClain to enter a facility as part of his treatment program.
According to the league's policy, "a player who fails to cooperate with testing, treatment, evaluation or other requirements imposed on him by this policy or fails to comply with his treatment plan, both as determined by the medical director; or who has a positive test result, will be banished from the NFL for a minimum period of one calendar year."
Unlike with defensive end Randy Gregory, who is also in Stage 3 of the substance abuse program, McClain has yet to enter a treatment facility to address his drug issues.
"Even we don't know all the details," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday. "We just don't know."
BENGALS: Tight end Tyler Kroft hyperextended his left knee during practice. Kroft was projected to start while Tyler Eifert recovers from left ankle surgery. … H-back Ryan Hewitt, who has become one of the team's best blockers in his two seasons in the NFL, agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2019 season.
CARDINALS: All-Pro defensive back Tyrann Mathieu agreed to a five-year, $62.5 million contract extension, with $40 million guaranteed. The contract comes despite major injuries to each knee in two of his first three seasons.
CHARGERS: Veteran receiver James Jones agreed to a contract. Jones, 32, spent eight of his first nine NFL seasons with the Packers.
FALCONS: Seven-time All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney agreed to terms. Freeney, 36, had eight sacks with the Cardinals last season. He joins a team that had an NFL-low 19.
JETS: Wide receiver Brandon Marshall punted a ball over the bleachers in frustration at the end of what coach Todd Bowles called a "sluggish" practice. Marshall joked that he "almost got sued" because of the short punt. … Left guard James Carpenter was activated from the active/physically unable to perform list after he missed four days of camp with a hamstring injury.
RAVENS: Injury-plagued running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, was released.
STEELERS: Cornerback Senquez Golson may miss extended time with a severe foot injury.