IRVING, Texas – The expectations on a high-profile are big enough as it is, but Randy Gregory certainly raised the stakes in the past month.
Taken No. 60 overall back in May, the rookie pass rusher announced his presence on the Cowboys' roster this summer. He notched three sacks in three preseason games, showing a glimpse of why he was drafted to bolster the defensive line.
Gregory was understandably happy with that performance – but not too happy.
"I mean, it's a confidence boost – it is," he said. "But I've always said it's preseason, not all of them were against first-team offense and a couple of them -- I kind of fell into them. So I wasn't as happy with my play as I think other people were. It's a stepping stone, for sure, but I'm never satisfied. I think I have a lot more to prove."
His defensive coordinator would be glad to hear that. Rod Marinelli has been intrinsically linked with Gregory since the Cowboys opted to take him after his fall down the draft board. In just the four months the rookie has been at Valley Ranch, his coach can chart his progress on tape.
"I see his takeoff, and he's starting to get a chance to have a signature rush move – something he stands for," Marinelli said. "Then, you develop the counters off that – those type of things. So that part I've seen."
With Greg Hardy missing for the first month of the season, the Cowboys will be hoping Gregory can continue his productivity into the regular season, starting with the Giants. Plenty of others are buying into that belief, as he's been a trendy pick to contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
For his part, Gregory said he's content to keep his goals for his rookie season to himself.
"I wouldn't share them – not right now. I like to keep those to myself," he said. "When you start throwing numbers out there – I'm really not that guy, I think some people might take it as being overly confident or cocky. I'm just a rookie, I'm not going to go out there and expect too much out of myself, but like I said, I do expect a certain level of play out of myself."
He added: "I'll just let my play speak for itself."
The Cowboys announced their five captains for the 2015 season, with just one change from the previous year.
Voted on by the players, the captains including veteran linebacker Sean Lee, who missed all of last year with a knee injury.
[embeddedad0]Lee is back as one of the two defensive captains along with safety Barry Church. The offensive captains are once again Jason Witten and Tony Romo, while Dan Bailey returns as the special teams captain.
Aside from Lee, the other four captains were voted as such last season. Only Justin Durant, who is now with the Falcons, was a different captain in 2014.
"First of all, being elected captain by your teammates is one of the great honors you can have," head coach Jason Garrett said. "At any level, and certainly at this level. I think it starts with the respect your teammates have for you to put you in that situation. With that privilege comes responsibility. Those guys wouldn't have been elected captains if they weren't ready to embrace the responsibility of being an example to their teammates. We have high standards around here for how we do things. We try to emphasize those standards to our players. Those guys have to represent and uphold those standards more than anyone else."
Garrett: Hardy No Distraction
In a statement through the NFLPA on Thursday, defensive end Greg Hardy announced that he won't challenge his reduced four-game NFL suspension that officially began last Saturday.
The Cowboys can't have any contact with Hardy during his suspension, which ends Oct. 5. When asked Friday about Hardy's decision, Garrett praised his work in the offseason and expects him to be prepared to contribute when he's eligible to return.
"It has not been a distraction one bit for our football team," Garrett said. "Greg's come in here and worked hard and done everything we've asked him to do in the offseason program, the OTAs, the minicamp and throughout training camp. He's a good football player. He goes about it the right way and been a good example on the field and in this building for the younger players to see how a really good football player goes about his business every day.
"Now this is the other piece of it. There was a ruling that was made. There was a change to what that ruling was and we've all accepted that. We can't have any contact with Greg, but confident that he's working hard to get ready for Week 5 and the opportunity he has coming back here."