Randy Gregory poised for Cowboys breakout, ‘My best years are to come’

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For Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, becoming a starting defensive end is just a small part of a long list of recent triumphs for the Nebraska product. When Gregory was dominating for the Cornhuskers, he entered his name into the 2015 NFL Draft but fell down to Dallas in the second round after failing a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine with marijuana.

As a rookie, Gregory showed promise with 16 quarterback pressures despite missing four games due to an ankle sprain. After a strong campaign despite the injury, Gregory was expected to take the next step. In 2016, Gregory failed multiple drug tests and was ultimately suspended for 14 of 16 regular season contests and being ruled out of the club’s playoff stint.

Gregory would face multiple suspensions from 2017 through 2019 as well, needing to be reinstated multiple times, but the Cowboys never gave up on him, After re-signing him for the 2020 season, Gregory was reinstated in September of 2020 and was activated on October 20.

In ten games, Gregory posted 21 tackles and three sacks to go alongside three forced fumbles. Slowly ascending into the role as starting defensive end across from Demarcus Lawrence, Gregory set himself up for a big offseason in 2021, which he spoke on at minicamp.

It’s a big deal. I missed, what, I think the last time I had an actual training camp where I was involved or minicamp or OTAs or anything like that was rookie year. So it feels good. It’s real refreshing. I’m really working on the fundamentals and details and trying to get down in this playbook, but it’s fun to be around the guys this early and feels good to be out there.

After his rookie season, Gregory hasn’t been able to get the full offseason experience to prepare for the year, especially now, as a starter in Dallas. After overcoming so much adversity during his career, simple moments in the offseason have meant a lot to Gregory. Once battling to stay on the active roster in the NFL, he’s found himself and is poised for a big season in 2021.

I don’t want to get all deep on your guys but I think that its certain levels of self love and just understanding…I don’t know to put it. It’s a lot of self love. There was a time in my life when you could ask me to say one good thing about myself and I couldn’t. I could say 20 bad things. I have come a long way from that. I can say a lot of good things about myself. I am proud of myself. I am proud of where I am at. I am proud of the journey I took. A lot of guys don’t make it as far as I have. I have made a lot of mistakes. But I think I have earned what I have gotten whether it’s bad or good. And I am going to continue to do that. My best years are to come. They are ahead of me. Very excited for the future.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t been in Dallas for long but has had a positive outlook for Gregory and this offseason program is just the tip of the iceberg for their plans in 2021.

I really like the flight that Randy’s on. If you recall, I think it was the first six weeks, we had him working on the opposite field with Britt and bringing him back. We had him on a pitch count there for a while. But based on pure performance, I don’t know you could even disagree with the fact that yes, he’d better want to play more because I plan on playing him more. I think the most important thing for him is he’s been here every day. He looks great. I didn’t know Randy this time last year. He missed the first six weeks of the season until we were able to get him into the practice sessions. He’s doing great, looks great and we’re expecting big things from him.

Now entering a contract year, Gregory could be looking at a big payout in 2021. With a lot of expectations surrounding the pass rusher, a breakout season could set him up for a huge payday. Regardless of that, Gregory has his eyes set on the season and doesn’t want the contract talk to get in the way.

That is kind of crazy to think about. I understand its a contract year. It’s all about earning everything now. I will do it on the field. Barring injury I think I will be all right. I love it here. I love the owners. I love staff. I love the players. When that time comes we will talk about it. But I where I came from I am not thinking about a damn contract right before the season starts. I still got a lot to do.

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