Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory might be gone for now, following a year-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but he will not be forgotten by the Cowboys.
Owner Jerry Jones said the team will continue to support Gregory during his suspension and intimated that the fight to get him back on the field was not over.
Gregory was officially suspended for at least a year by the NFL on Thursday when his appeal of a missed drug test was rejected. The latest violation occurred as Gregory served a 14-game suspension and puts him in Stage 3 of the substance-abuse program.
He returned to the field for the final two games of the season and the Cowboys held out hope that he could stay for the playoffs before the appeal was denied.
It was a move that was expected, but not one that Jones and the Cowboys agree with. Nor does it appear to be one they will live with, though Jones would not go into detail on how they will fight to get Gregory back on the field.
“All I will say is it was not a surprise in terms of them dismissing his arguments at the hearing,” Jones said. “Right now, I’m not at liberty to talk about what we’ll do regarding specifically the ruling by the mediator and the league. Stay tuned there.”
Jones hinted at possible changes in how the league handles marijuana, relative to the many states which have legalized and decriminalized it.
However, he declined to be specific because he didn’t want to negatively influence the case.
But Jones made it clear that “the case is very much active and the resolution of it has a lot of different possibilities” that has him hopeful of Gregory getting back on the field at some point.
“Well I really hope and expect to have Randy Gregory back on the field,” Jones said. “I don’t want to put a time frame on it and I wouldn’t want to be long or short there. But there are some encouraging things that I think I see a light potentially at the end of the tunnel.”
Gregory can officially apply for reinstatement on Nov. 6, 2017, 60 days prior to the one-year anniversary of his banishment.
As of now, he can’t attend team-oriented activities. He can come to the facility for counseling and he can be contacted bi-weekly by the team’s director of player programs.
Defensive tackle Terrell McClain returned to practice Friday for the first time since hurting his his ankle Dec. 26 against Detroit.
Quarterback Tony Romo was back at practice after being sent home Thursday with “flu-like symptoms.”
Cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin) practiced for the second consecutive day as did defensive linemen Tyrone Crawford (shoulder/hamstring), DeMarcus Lawrence (back) and Cedric Thornton (ankle).
Left tackle Tyron Smith (knee) worked on the side, and linebacker Justin Durant hopes to return to practice next week.
Offensive guard La’el Collins (toe) did some individual work for the second straight day.
Drew Davison contributed to this report