PHILADELPHIA – From the sounds of it, the Cowboys expect to know Randy Gregory's status before they take their first snaps in the playoffs.
Gregory recorded his first sack as a professional in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia. But pending an appeal with the NFL, it remains to be seen if the second-year defensive end will be available for the Cowboys' playoff run.
"He's under appeal," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones. "He'll have his appeal hearing somewhere – my understanding is in the next week to 10 days. And then a final decision will be made."
It's been a long, strange road for Gregory to this point in his second season in the league. He was suspended for four games, all the way back in February, for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Another violation bumped that suspension to 10 games during the summer.
Those two suspensions combined to keep Gregory off the field for the first 14 games of the season, and he spent part of the summer in a treatment facility while the Cowboys went through training camp. On top of that, he was rumored to have incurred another violation during his suspension – which would incur another, yearlong suspension.
"The appeal is to appeal his suspension. So if he doesn't win it, he's suspended," Jones said on Sunday.
[embeddedad0]Gregory's suspension ended on Dec. 19, and he played in the Cowboys' 42-21 win against Detroit. But, in the moments following the game, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he was unsure if Gregory would be available for the playoffs.
However confusing the entire scenario might be, it didn't seem to affect Gregory too much. He played his best game as a professional against the Eagles, finishing with eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack on the day.
"It's still the same goal for me – to go out there and make as many plays as I can," Gregory said. "All the stuff that's off the field that I'm dealing with, I just kind of push it off my chest and ball the way I know I can."
Gregory has now had two weeks to acclimate to game speed after so much time off. The Cowboys likely wouldn't want to lean too much on him, as they'd prefer to bring DeMarcus Lawrence back from a back injury for the playoff run.
Still, in two games Gregory has proven he can be an asset for a pass rush that has gradually improved over the past month.
"It's one thing to get reps in practice and watch film, but going out there and actually playing against somebody, with game speed and things like that – it's a lot different," Gregory said. "Going out there and getting as many reps as I can."
As has been the case for most of Gregory's star-crossed career, the Cowboys are going to have to wait and see if he'll be able to build on it going forward.