Randy Gregory has only been back with the Dallas Cowboys for a couple of weeks, but he’s already running with the first team at defensive end.
The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of talent on the defensive line, but figuring out how to fit everyone together into one effective unit is a bit of a challenge. The latest edition of the team’s front includes Randy Gregory as a starter at defensive end.
That’s more than a little surprising. Gregory has only been with the team for about two weeks after finally being reinstated by the NFL. The talented lineman missed all of 2017 due to a repeat violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
The team hopes he’s put those issues behind him, but the only thing that will validate that belief is several years of continued eligibility
Tyrone Crawford was playing on the end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, but he’s being moved inside to the tackle position. It’s not a new spot on the field for Crawford.
He’s played inside before and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli likes the idea of him wreaking havoc at tackle with his speed.
For Gregory, the challenge will be increasing his stamina quickly enough to really hold down his starting position. He only played 10 snaps against the Cardinals in the Cowboys’ last preseason game.
Gregory will need to ramp up his participation quickly to play the 50-plus snaps generally required to be a starter in the NFL.
Dallas’ motivation to put Gregory in the starting lineup is pretty obvious. The coaching staff understands that they need a pass rusher capable of taking some pressure off of Lawrence. Gregory has the most natural talent of any of the other options at defensive end.
Some might argue that Taco Charlton deserves to be in that conversation, but the light hasn’t completely come on for him yet. His inability to play consistent football has left the door wide open for Gregory.
If Gregory can keep his focus on football, he could have a really nice season. The presence of Lawrence on the other side is going to garner a lot of attention from opposing offensive lines. Gregory is in line to see a lot of one-on-one matchups with tackles this season.
Don’t rule out him flirting with a double-digit sack season if he can stay healthy and eligible for a full season. Starting him is a gamble for the Cowboys, but he has the talent to provide his team a lucrative return.