Cowboys lose key defender to suspension for sixth consecutive season

Charean Williams
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The Cowboys have not gone a season without a key defensive player being suspended since 2013. They won’t have Robert Quinn to start this season and probably won’t have Randy Gregory.

On Tuesday, the NFL suspended Quinn for two games for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Gregory is indefinitely suspended and has not yet applied for reinstatement, although he is “doing well” in his treatment and personal responsibility plan.

Orlando Scandrick (2014), Rolando McClain (2015), Greg Hardy (2015), DeMarcus Lawrence (2016), David Irving (2017, 2018) and Gregory (2016, 2017) are the other Cowboys’ defensive players to have served suspensions since 2014. Those six players missed a combined 52 games to suspensions, 30 of those by Gregory.

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Scandrick, McClain, Hardy and Irving no longer play for the Cowboys.

“I don’t want to comment too much on that,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Thursday at his press conference. “There’s specific circumstances involved with each guy that are different from the others. Obviously, it’s not something we want for our football team. We want all of our players ready to go and ready to play but then we have to respond the right way. And we intend to do that with Robert’s situation.”

Having Quinn out for two games, if Gregory still is out, will be a blow to the Cowboys’ pass rush, but they do have depth at the position.

“We’re excited about the depth that we have on the defensive line,” Garrett said. “We’ve tried to very deliberately build it over the last few years and I think we’ve done a good job of that. You haven’t seen a lot of the veteran players out here yet. You have DeMarcus Lawrence coming back off an injury, as is Tyrone Crawford and some other guys. We like the group of guys we have and we’ll have competition here over the next three or four weeks to see who is part of our team and what their roles are.”

The Cowboys traded for Quinn with the uncertainty of Gregory’s situation. Now, they won’t have Quinn, something they have steeled themselves for “in the last few weeks.”

“Yeah, we’re aware of [Quinn’s] situation, obviously,” Garrett said. “And we found out about the suspension officially today, and we support Robert Quinn. We trust Robert Quinn. We really like everything he’s done for our team since he’s been here. We’re excited about his future with our team. His agent did come out with a long explanation of those circumstances. I don’t want to make any comment on that beyond the fact that we trust Robert Quinn and we’re going to support him 100 percent, and we can’t wait to get him back.”

Quinn will rejoin the team in Oxnard on Sunday after undergoing surgery on his fractured hand in Dallas. He was injured in practice earlier this week.

Quinn’s agent said the defensive end’s positive test was for probenecid, which is a gout medication that can be used as a steroid masking agent. Sean Kiernan said Quinn never knowingly took probenecid and does not take any supplements but does take prescription medication to prevent seizures.

Kiernan called the NFL’s decision “disappointing.”

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