The Cowboys’ brass is thrilled to have defensive end Randy Gregory back after a one-year suspension by the league for repeated violations of the substance abuse policy. But coach Jason Garrett said Gregory, who has played in just 14 games since being a second round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, will start out very slow as training camp ramps up on Thursday.
“Randy is not going to do much initially,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t been part of our team in over a year. He hasn’t been around NFL players in a long time. He looks in good shape. His weight is good. His spirits are really good. We’re excited to have him here. But he’s going to work with our strength coaches and our trainers to make sure we get a good base and a good foundation underneath him before he starts practicing.”
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Garrett said Gregory, who did not participate in the team’s conditioning tests on Wednesday, weighs 242. He weighed 235 coming out of Nebraska in 2015.
“We’re proud of how Randy has persisted and his desire and backed it up with what we know to be trying times and effort for him. We’re proud that he’s at camp,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “It wasn’t even a given early that he’d be out here right off the bat participating in the drills.”
Jones said Gregory being available for Day 1 of camp should give him a good shot at making the team.
“We know firsthand what a challenge dependency is, if you have any doubt, it’s a challenge,” Jones said. “So if we can all get him on the field, we’ll all be better off for it. Make no mistake, he’s a player, he’s a person we want.”
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the support Gregory’s teammates held a lot of weight for the NFL’s decision.
“Randy Gregory is a perfect example of somebody who just stuck with it and I admire him for it,” Stephen Jones said. “A lot of players once they get that year suspension most of them don’t get back. It’s very admirable the job he’s done and how seriously he’s taken the situation. Most families touch it at one time or another. Just because you have an addiction problem doesn’t make you a special person. If you get to know Randy he’s a guy you want to root for. He’s a good person and everybody believes deep down he wants to be a great player and do things the right way.”
Garrett said the most important thing for Gregory as he works his way back into the league is “getting his football legs back underneath him.”
“We’re going to be very thoughtful and thorough as to how we allow him to do that,” Garrett said. “It starts with drill work and then you put him in competitive situations and then you get him closer to playing in the game. We don’t think it’s going to take long, but we have to check ourselves as coaches. You get excited about getting a guy like this back, you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. We’re going to be very deliberate very thoughtful and how we go through this process and taking it step by step by step before you put him in a competitive situation.”