5 Cowboys who earned themselves larger roles in 2021

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys
Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports) /

player. 123. . . . Randy Gregory, DE. 3

Finally, defensive end Randy Gregory made his return to Dallas. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, he missed 58 games. That includes the entire 2017 and 2019 seasons.

Speculations were surrounding the troubled defensive lineman. It was unknown if he would be in good shape to perform for the Cowboys after missing an entire season and two games in the season prior. At one point, there were doubts about his return to the NFL in any capacity.

What we know is that he is an impact player when he has his pads on. Part of his reinstatement this season meant he would miss six games. It’s safe to say the Cowboys were relieved when he could finally return.

In ten games this season, Gregory looked more than ready to return to the NFL. He only had 3.5 sacks, but he had 12 quarterback hits and 15 quarterback pressures.

When watching him play, you saw the agility that made him successful in 2018 and college. With the continued development of his run defense, the defensive lineman will become a crucial part of Dallas’ defense.

He already showed how much the team could have used him during his suspension. Getting past offensive linemen was a common practice for Gregory.

Dallas has been searching for their long-term solution for edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence’s linemate. Someone who would play on the opposite edge to relieve him of double and triple teams.

The team signed edge rusher Aldon Smith this past offseason on a “prove it” deal. He played well and was on the field for 73 percent of the defensive plays but will likely not return.

Coincidentally, as Smith is leaving, Gregory is ready to play starting snaps. It should be a smooth transition from one player to the next.

Unless the Dallas Cowboys draft an edge rusher in the first round this upcoming draft, Randy Gregory will be a starter. He earned the opportunity, and he will flourish.