Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hinted that defensive end Randy Gregory might be unavailable for the playoffs.
Jones isn’t worried about any rust Gregory may have after missing almost a year, rather that the NFL may issue a year-long suspension to Gregory for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy yet again.
“I don’t want to speculate,” Jones said. “I’m just saying as excited as I am about Gregory, I want to temper it a little bit.”
Gregory returned Monday night against Detroit after serving a 14-game suspension this season for violating the substance-abuse policy multiple times, and is facing another suspension for a failed drug test that is under appeal.
Jones expects Gregory to play in the regular-season finale next Sunday at Philadelphia, but seemed unsure if the Cowboys would have him available in the playoffs.
As far as Gregory is concerned, he is expecting to be eligible and available for a playoff run but acknowledged he doesn’t know for certain.
“That’s out of my ballpark, that’s nothing I can do about that,” Gregory said. “That type of stuff, I’ll let Jerry and everyone else – my agent – things like that handle that. As we go, we’ll figure out how everything is going to turn out.
“As far as I know, I’m going to go out there and play every week and do what I can to help out the team.”
Gregory returned to practice last week and game action Monday. Gregory found himself in the D-line rotation, being credited with two tackles.
He recorded a tackle on his first defensive snap of the season, and later stuffed Detroit running back Dwayne Washington for no gain in the fourth quarter. A couple plays later, Gregory had a quarterback hit on Matthew Stafford.
“I always feel like I’m my biggest critic, so I always feel like I can do better,” Gregory said. “But I definitely feel like I did some things well, regardless of the circumstances. Obviously there’re some things I can work on.”
Gregory said he didn’t feel “gassed” at any part of the game, but was playing through an oblique injury he sustained early in the first quarter.
For Gregory, though, simply returning to the football field served as a highlight. It has been a long road back for him after he missed training camp while in rehab. But Gregory has had the full support of the organization and would like to make the most of it.
His teammates, particularly along the D-line, have raved about his ability.
Defensive end Benson Mayowa called Gregory “a cheetah” after the game.
“That dude is so fast,” said Mayowa, who had 1.5 sacks on the night. “Probably the fastest guy I’ve seen get off the ball.”
Added linebacker Sean Lee: “Randy has worked extremely hard during his suspension. He’s been there in the weight room. If you look at him in practice this week, it was unbelievable how well he was running and how hard he was playing.
“So getting him back is great for us. It’s a lot of fun and we’re all rooting for him.”
Gregory described his suspension as “hard,” but has managed to keep his spirits high.
Asked about his mindset, Gregory smiled and said: “Real good.”
Time will tell whether possibly missing the playoffs will dampen that at all.