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David Irving is the ultimate tease.

In eight games, Irving’s seven sacks were second on the defense to DeMarcus Lawrence’s 14.5. He had 19 quarterback pressures. The coaches credited him with 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, six pass deflections and a forced fumble.

“I keep thinking, ‘What if I had played all of the games?’” Irving said. “I probably could’ve got 15, 16, maybe more [sacks]. So I just got to come back next year, stay the hell out of trouble, hopefully don’t get injured and see what I can do next year.”

Irving missed the first four games last season because of a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He missed the final four games because of a concussion. There is nothing he could do to avoid the latter, but he could have done everything differently to avoid the former.

In 2016, Irving had four sacks, five tackles for loss, 26 quarterback pressures, five pass deflections and four forced fumbles, including three in one game. By the end of the season, he was the Cowboys’ best defensive lineman.

There are just not many people on the earth at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds who can do the things Irving can do on a football field.

When he came back from his suspension, he played mostly defensive end, but he shifted inside when the Cowboys moved Maliek Collins to nose tackle.

“Honestly, it doesn’t make any difference; put me at nose guard, left end, right end, three-technique, it really doesn’t matter,” Irving said. “Wherever I can make plays, wherever I can help the team. I’m capable of playing any position on the line, so wherever the coaches need me, wherever my team needs me.”

As for his health, Irving said he is “progressing slowly but surely.” The headaches are less frequent, and he hopes to be working out fully in a few weeks.

“It’s weird, man,” he said. “You’ve just got to rest up. Some days you have good days. Some days you have bad days, but the bad days are not coming as much.”

Consistency has been Irving’s issue, on and off the field. His talent will give him chances others won’t get, but he confounds coaches at times. He did not practice in part of the offseason for reasons not really known. He did not show up for the first reporting day of training camp at The Star before the Cowboys went to Oxnard, California.

Irving’s future depends on becoming more reliable. He is set to be a restricted free agent. The Cowboys are likely to give him the second-round tender in hopes that 2018 becomes the year he puts it all together, on and off the field.

Had Irving already showed he was responsible, the Cowboys might have opted for a long-term deal with a bigger financial commitment.

As he addressed the media Monday, Irving on multiple occasions talked about staying out of trouble, which is likely something he heard from the coaches in his exit interviews.

“You’ve got to be mature,” Irving said. “You have to be an adult. You have to be responsible. When you’ve got something to lose, it’s much easier to stay out of trouble. I’m definitely going to be staying out of trouble.”

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At the midway point of the season, the Dallas Cowboys have five wins. Can they win five of their final eight games? Which could be enough to earn a wild-card spot.

Fives are wild, especially on a day in which we ponder Five Wonders.

Away we go:

With the way he is playing, I wonder if the Cowboys already have to pencil in a first-round tender offer to defensive lineman David Irving as a restricted free agent this offseason. The Cowboys could put the second-round tender on him, but that might not scare off every team in the league from making an offer sheet to Irving. Teams with beaucoup amounts of salary-cap space might be willing to give up a second-rounder for Irving, who is showing he can play end or tackle. A first-round pick is a little different story. Irving has six sacks in four games this season. He admits to wondering what kind of numbers he would have in a full season. So do the Cowboys. But considering the price it will take to keep defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, the Cowboys’ budget might be tighter than expected.

** I wonder if the Cowboys need to start looking at the big picture with left tackle Tyron Smith. This is not to say it’s time to move on from him. Not at all. But he has been bothered by different back injuries over the past two seasons. While the back tightness this season has not cost him any games, there has to be some concern, considering Smith has not practiced on a Wednesday in a month. This week he likely will be limited because of a groin strain he suffered on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith doesn’t turn 27 until December, but the Cowboys might be wise to look at another tackle of the future type in the upcoming draft to serve as a game-day swing tackle, in case Smith isn’t able to hold up. The Cowboys have restructured Smith’s contract the past three seasons. For a mini-wonder inside a wonder, I wonder if they’ll pass on doing the same in 2018.

** I wonder if the Cowboys will call up Lewis Neal from the practice squad as a result of the injury to Brian Price or if they will look outside the building for defensive tackle help. At 318 pounds, Price was the second-heaviest defensive tackle the Cowboys had. Richard Ash checks in at 320 pounds. With the importance of the run defense, getting a wider body than Neal, who is listed at 280 pounds, makes a lot more sense. The Cowboys like Neal, but he is a better pass-rusher from the interior than a run-stopper. This is why the Cowboys trust vice president of player personnel Will McClay. He seems to be able to find players to fill specific niches.

I wonder if we are seeing how much Cole Beasley is benefiting from the Cowboys’ ability to run the zone-read in the tight red zone and/or the attention being paid to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Beasley has four touchdown catches on the season, and the longest is 7 yards. The other three are 2, 5 and 6 yards. Normally, a 5-foot-8 receiver wouldn’t be such a red zone target, but the Cowboys have found a way to isolate him in man coverage in the slot that gives him the chance to get to the middle of the field or out to the sideline.

** It’s too early to wonder about Pro Bowl spots, but the Cowboys have some obvious candidates in offensive linemen Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin; running back Ezekiel Elliott; quarterback Dak Prescott; defensive end Lawrence; and linebacker Sean Lee. I wonder if a case can be made for Kavon Frazier as a special-teams player. Frazier leads the Cowboys in special-teams tackles, and he set the tone on Sunday with a big tackle of De’Anthony Thomas on the second punt of game.

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said emphatically his players will stand for the national anthem and not disrespect the flag, and if they do, then the player or players will not play.

“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”

The topic was raised after Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers after more than 20 Niners knelt during the national anthem with their hands over their hearts, as was the case the previous week.

Pence tweeted a statement in which he said he would not dignify any event that disrespects soldiers, the flag or the anthem.

At the Cowboys’ Sept. 25 meeting against the Arizona Cardinals, Jones, his sons Stephen and Jerry Jr., and daughter, Charlotte Anderson, joined the team’s players, coaches and staff on the field prior to the anthem in taking a knee and locking arms. During the anthem, the Jones family stood arm-in-arm with the players.

The gesture was in response to President Donald Trump’s comments that NFL owners should fire players who disrespect the flag by not standing during the national anthem.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys defensive ends Damontre Moore and David Irving raised their fists at the end of the anthem before Sunday’s game against the Packers. Jones was unaware of their actions when asked after the game.

“We as a team are very much on the page together,” Jones said. “We made our expression. I’m very supportive of the team, but under no circumstances will the Dallas Cowboys — I don’t care what happens — under no circumstances will we as an organization, coaches, players, not support and stand and recognize and honor the flag. Period.”

George Atallah, Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs at the NFL Players Association, tweeted a statement from the union on players’ constitutional rights Sunday night.

Jones — one of seven NFL owners who donated to Trump’s inaugural committee — spoke with the president after the Cowboys played the Cardinals. Jones said Trump said the entire issue could have been avoided if the NFL enforced a rule stating players must stand for the national anthem; however, that requirement is not included in the NFL’s game operations manual.

According to the manual, “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem over the past year have said that they are protesting police brutality and racism — not the flag or the anthem itself.

“If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other, or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag,” Jones said. “Respecting the flag is first.”