Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wouldn’t say the status of defensive end Randy Gregory’s appeal regarding his latest failed drug test that could result in a year-long suspension.
Instead, Jones only reiterated Monday that Gregory is available to return to practice this week and is expected to play in next Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.
Asked if Gregory won his appeal or if it was still pending, Jones said: “I can’t comment on that. I really don’t want to indicate one way or the other because you can’t. You’re not supposed to. But I do know that we’re planning on having him practice this week and playing this weekend. And you know that.”
Gregory has been serving a 14-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy multiple times. He opened the season with a four-game suspension and had an additional 10 games tacked on in late September for violating the policy again.
At that time, the NFL announced that Gregory would be eligible to return to the active roster on Dec. 19. There had been some thought that Gregory could return to practice two weeks ago, but the league denied that because he was not compliant.
Either way, Jones is confident that Gregory can help the Cowboys down the stretch. Jones said Gregory is “really in shape” and has been attending team meetings and workouts, which the NFL allows suspended players to do.
Coach Jason Garrett was a little more cautious in what the team may expect from Gregory.
“He hasn’t played football in a while,” Garrett said. “He’s got to get himself football ready. We’ll try to take advantage of every opportunity we have over the course of the week. We have to be honest and objective in our evaluation of where he is and realistic about where he’s been.”
Gregory had a disappointing rookie season. He didn’t record a sack, but is still considered the most talented pass rusher on the roster.
And Jones even reminisced about the 1995 season in which the Cowboys got a boost from Charles Haley in Super Bowl XXX. Haley had been sidelined for six weeks following back surgery, but returned for the Super Bowl and registered one sack, three quarterback pressures and five tackles.
“I bet [Haley] hadn’t played a total of 20 in a year almost and came in the Super Bowl and made meaningful plays for us and helped us win the Super Bowl,” Jones said. “But that’s Charles Haley and I know Charles Haley and Gregory’s no Charles Haley. But the whole point is that he does have some unique skills. That’s why we drafted him. They’re innate. Everybody needs repetition. Everybody needs practice but he’s got some skills that you can’t teach or repetition won’t necessarily create.
“We’d like to take advantage of some of those.”