The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next in late July.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season.
Today, our staff continues the series asking just how much the Cowboys can truly count on Randy Gregory, who is facing a four-game suspension to start the season.
No. 12 ) How much can Cowboys count on Randy Gregory?
Bryan Broaddus: I have been very critical of Randy Gregory this offseason. I've said that I don't believe that he loves football and from my experience in this league when that's the case – it's extremely hard to play. Despite all the red flags pre-draft, this front office felt strongly enough about him not only as a player but a person as well to make him part of this organization. But this decision was not without plan - they went out of their way to try and help make his transition into the NFL a smooth one. Where the plan has failed is that Gregory has took it upon himself to do what was best for him and not the team so he will miss the first four games of the season. What bothers the most about Gregory and his decision making is not the failed tests but the fact that he told Jason Garrett on that Draft Night he'd not have to worry about him. Count on him? Not likely from what I've seen so far.
Rob Phillips:The real shame in Randy Gregory's suspension is the Week 1 opportunity he lost by being ineligible to play the first month. The Cowboys had, and still have, a glaring need for a pass rusher. He could've stepped in immediately as a starter, and probably would have, because he's the most gifted rusher on the roster. I think the simplest answer here is trust is earned, and that's clearly a work in progress. Injuries are what held back Gregory last year – he missed four games with a high ankle sprain and ultimately played only 23 percent of the defensive snaps. That's out of his control. Missing precious playing time in his second year due to suspension could've been avoided. If he plays 12 games and has a productive 2016, I don't think it should prevent the Cowboys from looking closely at pass rush in free agency or the draft next year, partly because you can never have enough pass rushers to begin with.
Nick Eatman:Sadly, I think you have to count on him equally to the number snaps as he'll play the first four games – none. You hate to say that, but how can this team really count on him at all? They knew what they were getting when they drafted a player who failed a test at the combine, but there's no way they thought he would fail nearly a handful of tests more. And that's just off the field. When he's on the field, Gregory really didn't do much in the regular season to get super excited about. Sure, he'll improve in Year 2 and will probably get home with a few sacks. But in terms of counting on him, I don't think the Cowboys can afford to believe things will be better, until of course Gregory proves to them that things are better.
David Helman:"They can't count on him at all," would have to be my answer for the time being. How could it be any other answer after what's happened so far in 2016? Having entered the league in the substance abuse program, he failed enough tests to earn himself a four-game suspension – and that was after he failed to register a sack following an ankle sprain as a rookie. It's ironic, because Gregory had a brief stint during the 2015 preseason where he looked like a guy who would wind up being a good draft pick despite all the questions about his character. Roughly a year later, that feels like an ancient memory. Gregory still has time to right that ship, but at this point it's hard for me to say he deserves the benefit of the doubt.