FRISCO, Texas – Although Randy Gregory has been conditionally reinstated by the NFL, it will take a little more time before the talented pass rusher rejoins the Cowboys on the field.
When he does, the club is excited about what he can add to the defense.
"He's a really gifted football player that made a lot of plays for us a couple of years ago," Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. "Obviously he's coming back and is just going to add to what we think is a really stout defensive front."
According to a league statement published by NFL Media last Friday, Gregory will go through an acclimation period as part of his conditional reinstatement, starting with COVID-19 testing this week. He'll then be able to take part in conditioning activities, individual workouts and meetings. He can practice the week of Oct. 5, after the Cowboys' fourth game, and eligible to play in games after Week 6.
Gregory has been away from the Cowboys since February 2019, when the NFL suspended him indefinitely for violating the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse and the terms of his conditional reinstatement in 2018. Prior to the suspension, Gregory appeared in 14 games in 2018 and ranked second on defense with six sacks. The former second-round draft pick has seven sacks in 28 career games since 2015, with previous suspensions sidelining him for the better part of three seasons (2016, 2017, 2019).
Jones said Gregory is doing really well off the field in his personal life, and his conditional reinstatement is a testament to his efforts to resume his career. When active, he has proven to be a natural pass rusher.
So, how might Gregory fit into this year's defense when he returns to action?
"We'll see when he gets in, but it would be my hope that he would add to the pass rush on the edge in some cases, maybe even strengthen our base defense as a linebacker potentially," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "But I think he's one of those guys that's got versatility. He's kind of like a DPR (designated pass rusher), SAM-type of a player. We have two or three other players who are similar in that role. But I have not had a conversation with him thus far."
The Cowboys' coaching staff values position flex throughout the roster, particularly on the defensive front. Newcomers Aldon Smith and Everson Griffen have that ability. So does Gregory.
"I'm excited about his opportunity and obviously everything he's gone through to start this chapter of his life," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "Most importantly it's important for myself and everybody here to make sure that he gets the support that's needed to accomplish what we need to accomplish.
"I think really the relationship in the defensive line room, I think is going to be key. You have excellent veteran leadership and experience in there, so it's been fun to watch that particular group really come together. I think it will be a real asset to Randy coming back here and being part of that group."