IRVING, Texas -- Suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson will be allowed to practice starting Friday, which will be his first team session with the Dallas Cowboys since they signed him last month.
Johnson still has two games left on his eight-game NFL suspension for violating probation on a gun charge. Unless the suspension is reduced by commissioner Roger Goodell, Johnson will be eligible to play when the Cowboys play at the New York Giants on Nov. 11.
"It will be good to get him out on the field and get him in the meeting room too," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "All I know is he's going to practice. I don't know when he's going to be able to play, or when he'll be able to play."
Johnson, who was released by the Chicago Bears after his suspension, signed with the Cowboys last month. The Bears let him go after he was picked up for speeding at 3:30 a.m. shortly after he was suspended.
He has been able to work out individually at Valley Ranch and meet with the team's player assistance staff, headed by Calvin Hill. Until now, Johnson hasn't been able to work out with the team or work with the coaching staff.
"He's a gregarious kind of guy," Phillips said. "He's ready to play, wants to play and seems excited about it. He's a pretty personable guy, so it's all positives as far as I'm concerned."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Goodell had given Johnson permission to practice because the Cowboys have a bye week next week and won't practice much. Aiello emphasized that the suspension had not yet been lifted officially.
Defensive tackle Tank Johnson has nine career sacks in three seasons.
Johnson wasn't in the locker room when it was open to reporters Thursday before practice.
Johnson, a second round pick by the Bears in 2004, started 10 games for Chicago as it went to the Super Bowl last season.
Last December, police his suburban Chicago home and found six unregistered firearms, a violation of his probation on a charge stemming from Johnson's 2005 arrest. That came after a Chicago nightclub valet reported seeing Johnson with a handgun in his SUV. He subsequently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Two days after last December's raid, Willie B. Posey, Johnson's bodyguard, was shot and killed in an early-morning fight while he and Johnson were at a Chicago nightclub.
Johnson was suspended by the Bears for one game for being at the club. But he played in the Super Bowl as the Chicago lost to Indianapolis.
He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapons charge stemming from the December raid as part of a deal with prosecutors that kept him from serving more time in jail. He was ordered to serve 45 days for violating probation, which he served concurrently with the sentence on the guilty plea.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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