IRVING (AP) Wearing a blue practice jersey and clutching his white Dallas Cowboys game jersey, Tank Johnson headed off for a photo shoot during his lunch hour Wednesday.

The club needed a fresh picture now that hes truly part of the team.

His half-season suspension over, Johnson is preparing for both his Dallas debut and his first game since the Super Bowl, when he started on the defensive line for the Chicago Bears. Hes been practicing for a few weeks, but things are different now that he knows hell be playing Sunday against the New York Giants.

Im ready to go, Johnson told coach Wade Phillips.

Youre going to be in the game, so you better be! Phillips responded.

Johnson sure looked eager, being among only three players who practiced in their game pants. Impressions and words of others are all we have to go on, though, because Johnson said he wont be talking until after the Giants game.

Phillips said Johnson will play mostly on first and second downs, getting in for about one-third of the game in place of starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

Hes in the rotation, Phillips said. I think hes got quickness and strength. Well see where he is pass rush-wise. But if he will help us on the pass rush, well put him in there, too.

Jason Ferguson began the year as the primary nose tackle, then was lost for the season in the opener. Soon after, the Cowboys signed Johnson, whom theyd already been considering because of his talent and availability.

Why was someone so talented even available?

Well, since the Super Bowl, hed spent two months in jail for violating probation on a gun charge. He got out and vowed he was aiming to become the NFLs Man of the Year, only to see his candidacy go awry when he was pulled over for speeding and tested for driving under the influence.

Although charges were never filed, the Bears decided he was out of second chances and cut him. Once the season started, the clock began ticking on an eight-game NFL suspension related to the weapons charges.

He signed Sept. 19, accepting a deal with no signing bonus and a minimum salary; actually, hes only getting a prorated portion of it this year, about $255,000. Its quite a bargain considering hes a month shy of 26 and already established himself as a strong member of a strong defense in Chicago.

In Dallas, however, hes starting over. In many ways.

From the football side of it, he must find his niche in a unit that plays a different scheme than the Bears, featuring one defensive tackle instead of two. The Cowboys also have gone 7-1 without him.

I havent seen him play so Im not going to get into, Oh, the defense is going to be even better with Tank because we dont know what he can do, said linebacker Bradie James, the defensive captain. Anything that he can do will be a plus. Hopefully he can come in and provide something.

If nothing else, Johnson will provide relief for Ratliff, who is a bit undersized compared to most jumbo-sized nose tackles.