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Can TE Rico Gathers be More Than a Just Receiving Threat?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

Rico Gathers is trying to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham as someone who has successfully made the transition from college basketball player to tight end in the NFL. Unfortunately, that transition hasn't gone quite as smoothly as he probably would've hoped.

To date, Gathers really hasn't been able to put a lot on tape. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad with the Dallas Cowboys, but did gain some valuable experience working with Tony Romo. Last year he was just beginning to show what kind of threat he could be in the passing game when he unfortunately sustained a concussion in practice, pretty much ending his season.

As you can imagine, Rico Gathers still has a lot to prove heading into the 2018 season. In no way is his roster spot guaranteed right now. He may still be the most talented and physically gifted TE on the Cowboys roster, but that will only get him so far.

I for one think Gathers can be a tremendous threat in the passing game. I think the flashes we saw in preseason a year ago are exactly the kind of weapon he can turn into for Dak Prescott. He is even working a route running guru, David Robinson, to become even better in the passing game. But, we all know the Cowboys coaching staff demands a lot more from their tight ends.

Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

In the Cowboys offensive scheme, the tight end is an important position. They have to be able to block in several different areas depending on the formation, especially at the point of attack as an in-line blocker, sometimes being left one on one against a defensive end. That means they have to be assignment sound pre and post snap, with the ability to make the right adjustments in a split second.

For Rico Gathers, this is the area of his game holding him back the most right now. We all know what kind of threat he can be in the passing game, but the Cowboys coaching staff wants someone they can trust to leave on the field down after down. This is where Gathers will have to prove himself the remainder of the offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys knew Rico Gathers was a developmental prospect when they drafted him in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They didn't know how long it would take for him to be be able to contribute, but that time may be running out. Year 3 could be his last chance to prove himself in Dallas.

Gathers is a mismatch player in the passing game against smaller defensive backs, but that might not be enough for the Cowboys coaching staff to keep him around. I would personally get him involved in the receiving game, especially with all the new faces Prescott will be throwing to this season, but unfortunately I'm not making those decisions.

Do you think Rico Gathers is more than just a passing game threat?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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28 Comments
  • Chet Horton

    No he won’t and he isn’t even a threat in the passing game. He is an awful football player. He is a horrible route runner and can’t block even a little bit. He doesn’t know the offense. He isn’t any faster and definitely not as quick as any of the real TE’s on the roster. The only thing he has on even the worst TE in the NFL is height and he can rebound. As a pro football player he is a waste of time, space, and money. The sooner we cut him and move on the better.

    • SmittyW

      Chet is pretty much on the money.
      With coaches still criticizing Gaither’s efforts and skill set, it’s pretty obvious a failed experiment.
      He either makes the team (which I doubt) or is cut by the end of this training camp.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

        Chet is wrong about Rico…

    • Sidney Montgomery

      I wouldn’t say he’s the worst TE from what I’ve seen. I liked his receiving ability, I don’t know if by design but the Cowboys don’t show much tape on his technique. I don’t think they are happy with him but are afraid he might turn out to be pretty special on another team. I guess training camp will tell. Just don’t take too much time from other developing TEs.

      • kabob

        I honestly don’t think how a player would do for another team factors into the Cowboys’ roster decisions at all. In the past, they’ve parted ways with multiple players with potential that didn’t work out for them but could have or later did better on other teams. Heck, they’ve made a living banking on those same players on other teams working out here in Dallas with different coaching and scheme fit. If Gathers can succeed for another team, that’s a benefit to both him and the Cowboys. The other NFC East teams are stacked at TE so it’s not like a division rival would pick him up and start him.

        • Sidney Montgomery

          It’s not so much of what he will do for another team but they took a raw talent and in my opinion he is ok as a receiver but his blocking technique is lacking. If they still had a Jason Witten on the roster they could continue to develop that but they have too many young other young TE to work with. Perhaps if he goes to another team short at TE they would have time to work with him. I think at some point he will become a decent player. Remember, he is learning the position at the Nfl level.

          • kabob

            A team that picks up a player off another’s practice squad has to put him on the active squad. No team’s going to do that when he can’t even come close to making it with the Cowboys. He’d have to be cut and picked up off waivers.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Wrong in your point about no NFC east team not picking him up
          Philly tried to pluck Jarwin just this past season
          I can see them using Rico like Ertz
          By the way, coaches, writers, & experts have the same bones with Jarwin blocking deficiencies
          &
          Yes Rico is a receiving threat
          He outshined them all last preseason & with all 3 Qb’s
          Experts favors Jarwin ahead of Swaim who has all 9 catches between TE’s

          So this dies cast a good light on Swaim
          &
          They say Schultz has quite a ways to go before he’s NFL ready

          Bottomline

          Dallas coaches say Witten can’t be replaced & they’re not trying
          PLUS
          The NFL is a copy cat league & we just assume Dallas will stuck withbthe status quo

          JG says Rico just needs to play more ball
          Practice won’t be enough

          This means he intended to play him to get him up to par
          Dallas is moving towards change & implementation
          &
          Why will they give opponents a heads up on our plans
          Haven’t we said we’re too predictable?
          So why assume we’re gonna stay the course TE-wise ?
          Or concerning any true gameplan for that matter?

          May the spirit of Bill Belichek supersede our coaching tendency to give family secret recipes away prematurely

          • kabob

            What you think now that training camp has proven Rico can’t run routes properly still, is slow out of his stance and he’s completely out of place with his hand, feet, and direction? Still looks like a beginner.

          • Sexcdex Xfact

            Schultz doing OK but blowing assignments
            Jarwin outdoing em all but has missed assignments
            Rico is progressing & being blasted for his missteps
            Ain’t been hearing much on Swaim
            Rico been showing out receiving wise
            He’s not far tat with Jarwin
            He’s also making very nice blocks
            This is from several days of padded practices
            &
            From analysists reviews

            Your point is secondary to what I plainly can see in video footage pointed out by staff writers & experts

            And by no means am I saying Rico makes the team
            But he made the 4TE roster with Jason Witten last year

            Why can’t he not make a 4TE roster this year?

    • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

      Rico will be a pro bowler anywhere he goes & gets an opportunity on the field… he’s special soft hands plays big… Cowboys hid Rico Gathers last year on the injured list… Gathers could have played more than half the season… The cowboys have very weak player development coaches/program… Release Rico & i guarantee he starts & becomes a pro bowler on the team that signs him…

      • SmittyW

        A pro bowler? Is that you Rico?

        Seriously, what evidence do you have that a guy who cannot make the roster is going to be an NFL active player much less a pro bowler ?

      • Chet

        No way no how will he ever even be a 3rd string TE in the NFL. He isn’t special. He isn’t fast. He isn’t quick. Every TE on the roster is as fast or faster than him and they are all quicker. He looks like he is running in slow motion when running routes. He gets zero separation. He doesn’t catch any better than any of the other Dallas TE’s. He doesn’t have soft hands his hands are average for the NFL. He can’t block. He can’t take a hit. The only thing he has going is that he is tall. He wasn’t even an above average Division I basketball player or he would be in the NBA making a lot more money. He is a horrible football player and will never amount to anything in the NFL.

    • Not your goat

      Did you watch the Cowboys in the preseason last year? Rico played like what Marty Bennett wanted to. Caught balls in traffic, red zone, on the run, all hand catches. I understand you have heard this and that about how bad he blocks but honestly it benefits keeping a practice squad player from getting plucked. After the initial hype over Jarwin last year we heard the same kind of stuff. The Cowboys have always been good at and emphasized teaching so Rico is definitely in the right spot. This team needs difference makers and I see 2018 as the year Jerry gets some credit for a few of these risky but high reward decisions he’s made recently. This team is seriously on the verge of not just being good but dominant and if TE, FS or WR is holding us back come camp the Cowboys will undoubtedly make a move anyways. We still have the cap to sign any contract we want besides a QB and if this team wins this year there’s enough cap next year to re-up EVERYONE!

      • Sexcdex Xfact

        They just won’t believe it until they see it
        And I doubt some see it even then
        Other teams have rewritten the TE position with Rico type players, hybrids, etc

        It’s like we complain about staleness in coaching but play couch-coach in suggesting we should settle for being left behind by teams that do employ fresher schemes that keeps teams guessing

        I honestly feel J Jones, JG, & Co have damaged fanbase ability to rationalize anymore

        Now that the writings on the wall as far as extreme measures to adapt by the FO, the FANBASE is still stuck in the old mold

      • Chet

        I have watched every pre-season and regular season Cowboys game for the last 10 years. Rico caught 7 passes last year against 3rd string pre-season players. He had very little separation from any of the defenders and any non drafted TE the Cowboys have ever had could have caught all of them. He is a horrible player both as a receiver and a blocker. The TE’s they have are so far superior than Rico he would never see the field then they drafted Schultz who is also a far better TE than Rico which further cemented Rico as the worst TE on the roster. In no way shape or form is Rico a difference maker, he is a liability. That sums up Rico so now let’s address why the Cowboys don’t need the type of TE you think Rico is. This is a running team and whether this team is dominate or not has nothing to do with the passing game and everything to do with the running game and the defense. The passing game is like Roger Clemens change up and slider both are good pitches but they are nothing without his fastball. Our running game is the single most important and only difference maker we need on offense to win a super bowl. So a slow, weak, poor blocking, poor route running, football ignorant TE is not a difference maker and is a waste of time, money, and air by those discussing him. He is irrelevant and will never be anything in the NFL but irrelevant.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Witt couldn’t get separated either these past few years like he use to
          But your point solidify Gathers ability tohighpoint a catch
          & Dak being able to advantage his tight window throws genius in using Rico & others
          Rico’s height advantage makes up for any speed deficiencies
          Plus
          Rico has NFL preseason experience to schultzs

        • Not your goat

          Hahaha, I couldn’t even read 3 lines of that stat search contradiction. No separation but somehow still making uncontested catches anyone could make, hahaha, I wasn’t aware anyone could score in the NFL, I really need to look into this. Like I said, go watch the tape, you clearly just googled stats because those weren’t ordinary catches, 1 of them was tipped in front of him while another guy was lining him up and he outperformed every TE on the roster, not against 3rd stringers like you say either. And I’m pretty sure you might be the only person denying Rico’s physical ability, he’s a superior athlete at his position and denying that for the sake of your argument just sounds silly. I’m just curious where this analysis you have of Gathers comes from? Your own private practice sesh with him or just pure esp? My 1st cousin that I grew up w/ has an office in the Star and works for the NFL Network (you know who this person is) tells me Rico is a monster and not only is he running better routes but he’s becoming a physical blocker. Don’t believe everything you read and when a coach not known for dropping any information on any player suddenly drops negative info, it either had a different purpose or he simply wanted to motivate his young player.

      • Chet

        I do agree we are really close to being very special just disagree about how.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

        ✔…

  • Not your goat

    I understand the concern over his pass/run blocking but on a team short of potential passing mismatches or just targets period it would be foolish to not give Rico every chance to contribute on offense. If you honestly look at this Recieving core as a whole the only 2 guys that have the potential physical ability to do things that are undefendable are Rico and Tavon. That’s a scary balance of size and speed and pure speed to gameplan against. Unproven but again on a team short of difference makers I’d give every opportunity to the guy who can impose his will and make plays that other options on the team can’t.

    • Sexcdex Xfact

      Question

      If Rico is on the field with
      (say for example)
      Swaim & Jarwin or Schultz & Swaim in a 2-3 TE set defenses just cant assume run or pass

      Just how hard is this to phantom for God’s sake?!

      I agree with you

      • Not your goat

        Schultz was widely considered the 2nd best run blocking TE (w/ a min. catch amount) in College Football, the best 1 we picked up as a UDFA. If we can use a 4th rd pick in hope of teaching a man to catch we certainly can teach a blue chip athlete how to block or at least do the bare minimum. Don’t forget we have a few All-Pro Linemen that love to pull and clean up linebackers. Those 2-3 TE sets would be so scary to teams. Most people think defenses stacked the box because we had Zeke, no the did it because Witten never left the field and he’s not fast. Imagine running the Wishbone over and over on a hurry up offense and Rico slips past a safety or 8 plays later on 2nd down we sub Austin, Thompson and Cedric Wilson. Doesn’t seem very scary yet but considering those guys all run legit 4.3’s and we just punched it down the throat of your heavy D-sets these guys will be running wild. I can’t wait, this team is so complete I can’t stand waiting anymore.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Philly, LA Rams & others are employing more college schemes with success
          Dak says part of Dak-friendly is spread offense & other techniques he’s accustom to
          So yeah, I can see something of the sort

  • Russ_Te

    If RG is just too much of a liability as a blocker, that will show up and he’ll be cut this preseason. If he has upside there, then get him in the pre-season games a lot and let’s see how much of a target he is. The team needs an inside weapon badly enough this year, to tolerate a learning curve as a blocker.

  • SmittyW

    Rico if you spent more time training instead of using a fake name to comment on articles about you, it’s possible though unlikely you will make the team.

  • Sexcdex Xfact

    Yesssss
    And it will allow for much pressure off the up & coming-together receiving corp

  • kabob

    Oh yeah, Rico looking so great in training camp…. NOT. Dude is about to be cut from the team.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Revenge Against Atlanta Hinges on These 3 Key Matchups 1

Cuando los Dallas Cowboys sorprendieron a la NFL mandando una selección de primera ronda por el receptor Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, la respuesta fue muy dividida. Al final de cuentas, Cooper estaba pasando por una temporada bastante mala junto a su equipo. Sus números iban en decline y muchos habían perdido la fe en la ex-estrella de la universidad de Alabama y cuarta selección global en el NFL Draft del 2015.

Pero sorpresa, sorpresa. Desde que se unió a las filas de los Dallas Cowboys, Amari Cooper ha demostrado que la decisión que tomaron los Jones fue una muy buena.

En esta liga, es muy complicado justificar el deshacerse de un pick de primera ronda.

Estamos hablando de la oportunidad de tomar a un novato joven con muchísimo potencial para convertirse en un jugador calibre All-Pro en algún punto de su carrera. No es fácil renunciar a una posibilidad así en esta liga. Sin embargo, Amari Cooper no ha hecho más que justificar el trade por parte de los Cowboys. Si continúa así, al final de la temporada podríamos estar hablando de que Dallas pagó de menos por él.

Es importante recalcar que Amari Cooper tiene 24 años de edad. Para el NFL Draft del 2019, los mejores prospectos en esta posición tienen a lo mucho cuatro años menos. A.J. Brown de Ole Miss tendrá 21 años cuando pise el emparrillado por primera vez en la NFL.

Y no, ninguno de estos receptores está cerca del nivel de talento con el que cuenta Cooper.

#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

¿Qué tan grande ha sido el impacto de Amari Cooper?

Desde la semana 9, cuando los Cowboys consiguieron a Cooper, este ha tenido 30 recepciones. 23 de las cuales han resultado en un primer down o en un touchdown. Es el receptor con más atrapadas en tercera oportunidad. Podríamos hablar de las grandes estadísticas que el wide receiver ha conseguido vistiendo la estrella individualmente. Pero realmente, ha tenido un impacto en la ofensiva entera.

Desde su llegada, los Cowboys son el tercer mejor equipo en porcentaje de pases completos, el segundo en yardas después de la recepción y el tercero a la hora de convertir terceras oportunidades y mover las cadenas.

Simple y sencillamente, ha tenido un impacto que ningún otro novato del 2019 hubiera tenido en este equipo. Si, los Cowboys tendrán que pagarle una extensión cara en el futuro, pero cuando este sea el caso, lo habrá valido.

Amari Cooper es el ejemplo perfecto de porque la NFL es un deporte de equipo. Con los Raiders, todos lo tachaban como un jugador que ya no era bueno e iba para abajo. Pero bajo los Dallas Cowboys, se ve como un jugador que promete mucho para esta joven franquicia que necesitaba un verdadero #1 en la posición de wide receiver.

La ofensiva de los Cowboys tiene mucho talento. Es cuestión de mejorar en zona roja para que Dallas sea una amenaza bastante considerable en los playoffs de la NFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Why is Jerry Jones “keeping a very close eye” on the Kareem Hunt Case?

Brian Martin

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Why is Jerry Jones "keeping a very close eye" on the Kareem Hunt Case?
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

As owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones has been pretty open-minded when it comes to giving talented players second and even third chances. So, it should come to no surprise he is "keeping a very close eye" on the NFL's newest troubled player, Kareem Hunt, according to a statement he made recently on 105.3 The Fan.

"Yes, keeping a very close eye, and have a very keen interest in how this plays out. It's a challenging area about what we're about…everyone has zero tolerance for domestic abuse," said Jones.

Leave it to Jerry Jones to say something so vague that can be misconstrued on several different levels. There is really no way of knowing exactly why he is so interested in the Kareem Hunt case, which is why I thought I would attempt to crawl inside his head to decipher what he could possibly be thinking.

The Kareem Hunt case is interesting though on so many different levels. There is actual video evidence of the altercation thanks to TMZ, unlike the hearsay with Ezekiel Elliott that ended up looking more and more like a witch hunt by the NFL and Roger Goodell. You can bet that could be one of the reasons why Jerry Jones' interest has been piqued, but I can guarantee he's not the only one watching closely to see how this plays out.

Before I get too off-topic, let me get back to the elephant in the room. Why is Jerry Jones "keeping a very close eye" on the Kareem Hunt case? Let's jump into his thought process to determine what he could possibly be thinking…

Considering an Ezekiel Elliott/Kareem Hunt Tandem?

Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and FA Kareem Hunt

Since Jerry Jones isn't shy about adding "troubled" players to the Dallas Cowboys roster, there have already been quite a few people who believe Kareem Hunt will eventually end up with the organization. I highly doubt it happens, but a Ezekiel Elliott/Hunt tandem in the Cowboys backfield would be something dreams are made of, not to mention really fun to watch.

No offense to Rod Smith or any other running back on the Cowboys roster, but they don't really have someone who is capable enough in the eyes of the coaching staff to cut into Zeke's heavy workload. Pairing Hunt with Zeke would give Dallas a two headed monster and give them the best RB duo in the league. That would fit right into their run first mentality.

Hunt of course is looking at least a six-game suspension. Jerry Jones would have to be comfortable with the backlash he would receive by bringing him aboard, but we've seen him make such moves in the past. I definitely believe it's something that has crossed his mind. As a football movement makes sense, but it without a doubt hurts the Cowboys brand and their public image.

Kareem Hunt an Ezekiel Elliott Replacement?

Kareem Hunt

FA Kareem Hunt

We are getting to the point in Ezekiel Elliott's career the Dallas Cowboys have to start considering whether or not they want to sign him to a long-term extension. It could be as early as this upcoming offseason, or they could wait until after 2019. Adding a young, talented, and cost-effective RB like Kareem Hunt would be a shrewd/savvy move on the Cowboys part.

Like I mentioned earlier, Hunt is looking at least a six-game suspension and could quite possibly end up being for an entire season. That means he's not going to cost a lot when/if he's able to return to the NFL and is still young enough to make any contract he signs pay off. Sounds like a win-win for a team who is willing to bring him aboard.

About the time Hunt is able to return to the league just so happens kind of coincides with when the Cowboys have to make a decision about Elliott's long-term future with the organization. This is a no-brainer from a business standpoint, but we all know that there are other factors involved here. But again, I wouldn't be surprised if this is something that hasn't crossed the mind of Jerry Jones.

Seeing How the NFL and Roger Goodell Handle Things

Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell

Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

I personally believe that this is the reason why Jerry Jones is going to keep a close eye on the Kareem Hunt case, although the other two reasons certainly make sense. I just think he still hasn't put the entire Ezekiel Elliott suspension drama behind him and really wants to see how Roger Goodell and the NFL handles things this time around.

We all know that Zeke's suspension was based on nothing more than hearsay. The NFL's lead investigator even recommended he shouldn't be suspended and that was after interviewing the accuser six times, something that hasn't happened once in Hunt's case. The entire investigation was poorly handled and drawn out, which made the verdict that much more hard to swallow.

I think Jerry Jones has kind of been waiting for another chance to voice his displeasure with the NFL's ability to investigate and punish players of wrongdoing on a consistent basis. This could be the exact kind of opportunity he's been waiting for and you can bet that he won't shy away from voicing his opinions on the matter. In fact, I'm a little surprised he hasn't done so already.

Why do you think Jerry Jones is watching the Kareem Hunt case closely?



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Randy Gregory Is Looking Like We Always Thought He Could

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton

Much of Cowboys Nation had the proverbial pitchforks out when Randy Gregory was penalized for roughing the kicker after a key third down stop last Thursday night. Those same fans were understandably upset when Gregory was then penalized again, this time for lining up in the neutral zone and negating a sack fumble.

It was frustrating to see, and as head coach Jason Garrett said after the game, those plays were essentially turnovers committed by Randy Gregory. Because of these frustrating penalties, combined with his bone-headed personal foul all the way back in Carolina and his history of suspensions, people around the league have called Gregory a "dumb" player, or have suggested the Cowboys are wrong for giving him so many chances.

People have been wondering when the Cowboys' patience for Randy Gregory will pay dividends on the field.

I'm here to tell you that they already are.

Since returning against the Eagles four games ago, Gregory has compiled 3 sacks and 4 quarterback hits. Only DeMarcus Lawrence has been consistently better than Gregory as a pass rusher since he got healthy, and the production difference between the two isn't as large as you'd expect.

Of course, Lawrence receives much more attention from pass protection schemes than Gregory does, but if Gregory can continue to pressure quarterbacks and win his 1-on-1 matchups, things may begin to open up a bit more for Lawrence.

Gregory's calling card heading into the 2015 draft was his pure pass rushing ability. He's the athletic weakside edge rusher fans have been clamoring for for years. And while it took a while for him to get here, he's finally showing signs of playing like the athletic freak and football player he can be.

Gregory's hands, burst, and bend are special, and it was unfair to expect him to put everything together so quickly after not being around actual football for basically two whole seasons. But now that he's healthy and appears to be comfortable in his role, we are seeing more and more productive rushes from Gregory each week.

While Tyrone Crawford has been solid overall, Gregory has become the unquestioned pass rushing RDE, getting healthy and productive while Taco Charlton was injured and inactive. As a pure pass rusher he's clearly the 2nd best defensive end on the roster, behind the All-Pro caliber Lawrence, and looks primed for a Pro Bowl season in 2019.

This Sunday Gregory will take on Jason Peters and the Eagles offensive line. While he hasn't played enough to really have trends against any opponent, if he does have one it is against Peters. In 2016 Gregory tallied 7 tackles and a sack against the Eagles, and he also sacked Carson Wentz just a few weeks ago.

So in those two matchups, we have seen Randy Gregory at his best. As the Cowboys hope to take another step towards wrapping up an NFC East title, they certainly hope Gregory can continue this trend on Sunday afternoon.



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