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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

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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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, 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 wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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