When the Washington Redskins lost Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo in Week 2, 2012, the team turned to reserves Jarvis Jenkins and Rob Jackson.
The pair bolstered the defense and started a combined 28 games down the stretch, playing critical roles in the team's division championship season.
During the offseason, it was announced by the NFL that each player would serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance policy, shaking up the team's plans on defense.
In their collective absence, the team went 1-3, starting a now-healthy Orakpo and veteran defensive end Kedric Golston.
With both players returning to the team's only bye week practice on Tuesday, the Redskins may finally be back to full strength on defense.
"It's good to have them back. They were out there today in practice – getting back in football shape," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "I know they've been working out hard, but it's good to get started after the bye week with both of them."
Due to the terms of his suspension, Jackson was permitted to remain at the facilities, but not practice with the team or play. This was the first the coaching staff had seen of Jenkins since the preseason, and Shanahan was pleased with their conditioning.
"They ran well afterwards," he noted. "We didn't have a big workout today, but what we did do is we got about 25-30 plays in and then after that we ran them pretty good and they looked in good shape."
Both players are expecting to stay around the facility this week, making up for lost time while most of their teammates rest out of town.
For Jenkins, that's a small price to pay for what he referred to as letting his teammates down.
"Before I left I apologized to those guys and told them that it was my mistake," he said. "I'm not going to make that mistake again. I paid my dues and now I'm ready to play football.
"They forgave me and they're glad to have me back, it's over with and I'm ready to go."
Jenkins watched each of the Redskins' four games at home with his family, praising his support group for keeping his spirits up, even when he felt helpless.
"I kind of felt like I had something to do with us losing," he admitted to the media. "Obviously I made a dumb mistake and got suspended, and hurt our team. Our whole defensive line did a great job playing there butts off and I'm ready to go play some football."
Jackson said the team only ran 12 plays in practice on Tuesday, but does not doubt that he can hit the ground running next week in preparation for Dallas.
"I feel pretty good. We kept it simple today, the basic plays. I feel like I didn't miss a beat and picked it right back up. I didn't feel rusty at all, we ran the base plays and I just reacted."
On football shape
"Its hard to tell after today. We ran 12 plays so I really couldn't tell how good of shape I was in," he said. "I'm not sure yet but we'll see when I'm out there on the field with the long drives and things like that, but today I didn't feel rusty at all.
"I just reacted and I felt like I didn't miss a beat today. Only time will tell."