Dallas Cowboys: Heavy hands make Randy Gregory sneaky strong


Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is typically guarded in his praise of young players this early in training camp. He tends to temper any kudos by adding that the player still has a long way to go. He kind of pats them on the back and pokes them in the chest at the same time.

He did that with rookie defensive end Randy Gregory Sunday, but his comments should go a long way toward calming any worries about Gregory’s size and whether or not he can function as a defensive end.

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At just 235 pounds at the scouting combine, Gregory was thought to be a better scheme fit for a 3-4 defense looking to add top-end pass rushing talent at the outside linebacker position. The worry was, without the requisite mass to play defensive end, Gregory could get washed out of running plays or have trouble getting through 320-pound offensive tackles.

At Sunday’s press conference, available for viewing on the team’s web site, a reporter asked Garrett what it means that Gregory has “heavy hands.” Heavy hands is term common to NFL scouting reports. Garrett defined it for the reporter (who, we sadly note, gets paid money to cover the NFL):

"“We talk about it a lot, really with almost every player on our team. When someone with ‘heavy hands’ strikes you, you feel it. Some guys might be strong in the weight room, but they’re not heavy-handed guys… Those are important traits for guys to have, really at any position – a corner, a receiver, tight ends, defensive ends, obviously all along the offense and defensive lines. To be a heavy-handed guy, that’s a good trait to have.”"

You’ve heard of guys who are “sneaky fast?” They may not have the best 40 time at the combine, but if they get behind the defense no one seems to ever catch them? Garrett is saying that Gregory is sneaky strong. He may be under 250 pounds, but he has the pop to play defensive end.

Garrett added that heavy hands are something of a gift. Kind of like having a rocket for an arm. Brett Favre was a big, strong guy, but there were plenty of guys bigger and stronger – few of them could throw a football 80 yards on a rope.

"“Heavy-handed guys you can see it right from the start. It’s almost genetic… Typically you have them or you don’t have them.”"

Gregory has them. He’s got another thing Garrett believes can help him compensate for his lack of mass in the trenches. At 6’6”, he’s got “length.” Fortunately, paid reporters at the press conference understood this scouting term intuitively:

"“The other thing that Randy has, he’s got great length and he uses it. You see him use a long-armed move, or how he’s handling an offensive lineman or a tight end as he sets the edge – he does a really nice job with that as well.”"

For any paid NFL reporters reading this, “setting the edge” is a key component to run defense, one defensive ends must execute competently if they ever hope to be anything more than a third-down pass rush specialist.

Gregory is working on his weight. It’s a constant topic of conversation among the media types covering this team. Easy concept to wrap your head around – this dude is too light to play defensive end.

But he’s also got pop, and leverage. Should be enough to set the edge until this 22-year-old’s body fills out.

Of course, Garrett wouldn’t go that far:

"“He’s one day into it. There were some good things yesterday and there’s a lot of things that he has to work on as well.”"

Pat him on the back, poke him in the chest. Keep the rookie on his toes. Keep him trying to improve, trying to get better, trying to perfect his craft. Hopefully the reporter was taking notes?

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