After serving his 14-game suspension for substance abuse, Randy Gregory is almost ready to return to the field for the Dallas Cowboys.
Editor’s note: Following the publishing of this article, the NFL announced Randy Gregory would not be allowed to return to practice this week. According to DallasCowboys.com, he’ll have to wait until his current suspension has been completed (Week 16).
It’s not a secret that the Dallas Cowboys pass rush isn’t anywhere near threatening. They have only managed to notch 23 on the season so far. Their sack leader, fifth year defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, only has 3.5 sacks. Besides him, no player on the team has 3 or more sacks other than rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
That’s why the following is great news for the Cowboys defense, coaches and fans alike. Randy Gregory, the Cowboys controversial second year defensive end, can being practicing starting Wednesday.
For those who haven’t been following Gregory’s story this season, here is a quick synopsis. In 2015, the Dallas Cowboys selected Randy Gregory with the 60th overall pick in the draft. He was projected to be a top-5 pick until a failed drug test at the NFL Combine caused his stock to plummet.
The early returns of the Cowboys risk seemed promising, with Gregory notching 3 sacks in 4 games during the 2015 preseason. Unfortunately, Gregory was injured in the season opener against the New York Giants.
He ended up returning from injury, but didn’t manage a sack his rookie season. However, he did notch 16 quarterback pressures. This is where the story gets interesting.
In February, Gregory failed a drug test, which triggered a mandatory 4-game suspension. This also pushed him deeper into the NFL’s substance abuse program. One more slip up, and he faced a ten-game ban.
On the eve of training camp, the Dallas Cowboys announced that Randy Gregory had entered a rehab. Given his history, this was cause for concern. Then it happened. The NFL announced that Gregory had failed another drug test, adding ten games to his suspension. Now it covered the first 14 games of the 2016 season.
That gets us to today. The Cowboys are hoping to welcome Randy Gregory back to practice this week, per NFL rules. Per the rules, players may return to practice two weeks before the end of their suspension.
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Still, Gregory worked out with his team during his suspension. This suggests that he has kept himself in good football shape, and may be ready to return to the field when he becomes eligible in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions.
Gregory isn’t completely out of the woods yet, as Ian Rappaport reported in early November that he missed a drug test. At this stage in the Substance Abuse Program, a miss counts as a failed test. That would earn him a year-long ban. However, the NFL hasn’t said anything to the media or the team itself about another suspension. So for the time being, it looks as though Gregory will be returning.
I personally believe that a Gregory return will push the Cowboys defense into the conversation of being an elite unit. I loved the pick of Gregory in 2015, regardless of his drug issues. After all, Von Miller was once in the same situation.
Having former college teammate Maliek Collins around should help Gregory regain focus on his goals, much like DeMarcus Ware did for Von Miller. Once Gregory gets his head right, he will dominate in the pass rush. He showed explosiveness and elite bend in college, and showed glimpses of the same at the pro level during his limited experience.
It may take some time, but given his talent, Gregory has the chance to become a special player for this Dallas defense, potentially a yearly double-digit sack monster. Everyone can agree the Cowboys could use a player like that.
What are your thoughts? Are you excited to see Randy Gregory return to the field? Do you think he could prove to be a difference maker for the Cowboys defense? Let us know in the comment section below!