McCarthy noted he is "definitely encouraged" by the linebacker's progress and that "all the arrows point up" on Vander Esch's chances of playing Monday, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Vander Esch suffered a broken collarbone during the Cowboys' season opener against the Los Angeles Rams and hasn't played since. A return on Monday would put him well ahead of the earlier reported six-to-eight week recovery window.
The linebacker remains on injured reserve and will need to be activated before Monday's contest to play. Vander Esch did practice on Thursday and Friday this week, impressing McCarthy with his play.
"Leighton looked like he didn’t miss a beat in there," McCarthy said Thursday, according to The Dallas News' David Moore.
Vander Esch could be a big boost to a Dallas defense facing much criticism after giving up an NFL-worst 36 points per game.
The 24-year-old was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 and has notched 215 career tackles.