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So far the consensus around NFL circles is that the Dallas Cowboys will need to rely heavily on their offensive production this season to have a successful year. The defense is not expected to get many stops, so the job of scoring more points than the other team will fall squarely on Dak and company’s shoulders.
But every NFL season finds ways to surprise pundits and fans alike. The reason the league enjoys such relative parity from season to season is because playmakers step up and outperform expectations every year, without exception. The uncertainty of the league is also what makes it such a tough sport to gamble on with long-term success.
The Cowboys staff hopes that 28-year-old DE Randy Gregory exceeds league expectations and becomes a superstar edge rusher for Dallas.
“Randy Gregory is as good a football player as this team has,” said Phillip Tanner, the former Cowboys player and coach. “He’s going to make All-Pro.”
Gregory, a 2015 second-round draft pick from Nebraska, has played in only 38 career games (with just one start), thanks to repeated substance-abuse violations and suspensions. When he finally emerged from the scrap heap last season, he played well, but still hadn’t earned the trust of the coaching staff, which favored Aldon Smith.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said he “was surprised (Gregory) didn’t play more,” and plans to give him more snaps in 2021, which should be the first full season for Gregory since arriving in the league.
“I think he’s going to really take off,” Quinn added.
Most importantly for Gregory, owner Jerry Jones still has faith in him.
“Randy, I’ve been really impressed by the way he has stayed the course with legitimate life challenges,” Jones said. “He addresses them exemplarily. He has to fight the kinds of things that make those challenges for people. He has to fight that. I’m seeing him take the logic and the mentality of using what he’s been through there, and I’m seeing him bring it over to his game and bring it over to being the professional he potentially might have the chance to be.”
Jones rightfully thinks that although Gregory is older by league standards, he still has “a lot of tread on the tires.” Gregory’s last mini-camp experience prior to 2021 was his rookie season.