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Marinelli on Randy Gregory: “I’m Training Him Like It’s His Opening Season”

Among the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys, Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli stands out as a guy with a big personality. He demands a lot from his players and is not shy about letting them – and the media – know when his expectations are not being met. He’ll also be the first to praise a guy that is performing well in his system on the defensive side of the ball, while continuously searching for ways to improve that player. When asked about suspended second-year defensive end Randy Gregory on Wednesday, Marinelli had this to say: “I’m training him like it’s his opening season.

Sean Martin



Cowboys Headlines - Marinelli on Randy Gregory: "I'm Training him Like It's his Opening Season"

Among the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys, Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli stands out as a guy with a big personality. He demands a lot from his players and is not shy about letting them - and the media - know when his expectations are not being met.

He'll also be the first to praise a guy that is performing well in his system on the defensive side of the ball, while continuously searching for ways to improve that player.

When asked about suspended second-year defensive end Randy Gregory on Wednesday, Marinelli had this to say:

"I'm training him like it's his opening season. I'm going to grind on him, he needs the work to get better. He's getting a lot of looks and he'll continue to get that"

Randy Gregory is a bit of a polarizing name for Cowboys fans right now. Dallas' second-round selection in the 2015 draft, the talented edge rusher missed 4 games early in the season with an ankle injury suffered during the opener against the Giants.

In that game, Gregory was promising, as he saw just 18 defensive snaps - making the most of them by consistently generating pressure from the right side against Eli Manning. When he returned from his injury, Randy was never the same player.

His snap counts did not increase significantly until the final 4 weeks of the season, and he ultimately ended 2015 without a sack. Instead of using this as further motivation to be a vital part of Marinelli's pass-rushing rotation this year, Gregory failed another drug test in the off season that landed him his current 4 game suspension.

Rod's quote is interesting here, because I feel it is exactly what Gregory needs, and exactly how the team needs to treat him.

The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2016 NFL Draft with 3 picks in the top 100. With Maliek Collins suffering a broken foot during practice recently, the only one of these picks that is expected to make any impact at all this season (albeit; a large one) is first-round running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Instead, the Cowboys turn to their 2015 draft class for 2016 impact. Byron Jones had a terrific rookie season, and now factors heavily into the team's defensive plans as a safety. Damien Wilson, Mark Nzeocha, and Ryan Russell will all compete for more snaps on the defensive side of the ball as later round picks, while Chaz Green does so on the offensive line.

The one player that has yet to show that he can make any measurable impact at all is Gregory, leaving the Cowboys defensive line as one of their bigger concerns right now. While there is hope for some unproven players to shine in Marinelli's system and emerge this season, Randy Gregory included, none of them have the tag of being a top 100 draft pick attached to them like he does.

This is why Gregory would be best to forget about everything that happened in 2015, and set his mind on competing for a job in 2016 as if he is a rookie. If he does this while constantly working against the first-team offensive line, Gregory should quickly realize that a lot can change very quickly in the NFL.

First year players like Benson Mayowa and rookie Charles Tapper will look to take snaps away from Gregory, who can use 2015 as a driving force to beat out any competition and prove that he is the guy the Cowboys wanted when they called his name on draft night.

Truthfully, this entire organization may be better off forgetting about the dreadful 2015 season, asides from using it as motivation for 2016. For Randy Gregory, this is more than just a potential story line, but something he needs to do in an attempt to cement a future in this league.

A hopefully fired-up Randy Gregory will take the field at AT&T Stadium on October 9th against the Bengals for the first time after serving his four game suspension to start 2016. Playing with a chip on his shoulder, let's hope he becomes the missing link for a Cowboys team that is already off to a solid start.

Rod Marinelli certainly thinks that Gregory can be that guy, along with thinking that his defense without Gregory can be a big reason for any early success the Cowboys do have.

The rest is up to #94...

Tell us what you think about "Marinelli on Randy Gregory: “I’m Training Him Like It’s His Opening Season”" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.


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BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie



Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.

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Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix



Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.

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Cedrick Wilson: Cowboys WR Could Shine After a Year Off

Matthew Lenix



Cedrick Wilson could shine after a year off

The departure of Cole Beasley to Buffalo via free agency in March left a hole at the slot receiver position in Dallas. The team signed veteran Randall Cobb about a week later, but only to a one year deal. Names like Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns along with Cobb are looked at as the replacement for Beasley but don't forget about Cedrick Wilson.

Selected in the sixth round in 2018, Wilson was coming off an impressive and highly productive two-year career at Boise State. Tallying 139 receptions for 2,640 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 26 games.

When OTA's began last season, the rookie was already turning heads with his route running, ability to create separation and athleticism, but unfortunately, disaster happened not long afterward. Wilson would suffer a shoulder injury that placed him on injured reserve for 2018, the same shoulder he had issues with in college. A not so fairy tale beginning to an NFL career.

Although his time on the field was short-lived last summer, he definitely caught the eye of wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal.

"Ced's a savvy, smart football player. He picks things up really well. He applies them to the field. In terms of technique, he's one of the best if you watch him. His stance and start is really good. He comes off the ball with low pad level. He's eating up ground and then has a nack to make a big play over the top on a big post," Lal said.

Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb make up a very formidable receiving core, and adding a healthy Wilson to that could work wonders. His experience on the outside and the slot gives offensive coordinator Kellen Moore plenty of options. Slot receivers are usually harder to bump off the line with the extra few yards of cushion they get, giving them more options route wise seeing as they can go inside or out a lot easier than outside receivers. That's where Wilson's supreme route running can come into play. Also, with his ability to separate on the outside and beat corners deep, you can play him opposite Amari Cooper and put Cobb in the slot with a combination of either Gallup, Austin or Hurns in a four-wide receiver set, the possibilities are endless.

A setback can be a blessing in disguise if approached in the right manner. Wilson hasn't let the year off derail his focus on what he's trying to do in Dallas.

"Coming back off the rehab was tough in general. But definitely a year of just seeing how everything goes, the speed is definitely slowing down. Just getting back in the playbook and learning from older guys of what I need to do and doing what the coaches expect of me," Wilson said.

The competition won't be easy for Wilson, though, as other young up and coming receivers are fighting for roster spots as well. UDFA's (Undrafted Free Agents) Jon'Vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton will also be fighting for snaps during mini-camp, with the former already making waves during OTA's. Reggie Davis has also turned a few heads in the summer, a fellow UDFA himself trying to find a home after bouncing around the league between four different teams since 2017.

It's all about health for Cedrick Wilson at this point. Can his shoulder hold up enough to allow his skill set to make a contribution to the Cowboys in 2019? The talent is there, along with the praises of his position coach, now it'll be interesting to see if this potential diamond in the rough can shine under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium.

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