It's easy for a casual fan to root against Randy Gregory. On the surface, all they see is a plethora of suspensions since he's been in the NFL which provides a lot of doubt about his character. However, if they peel back the layers, they'll see a young man who has battled personal challenges with his mental health and has done an amazing job getting his life off the field together to be an effective player on it.
The Dallas Cowboys as an organization, lead by Owner Jerry Jones, have never wavered in their support of Gregory. That's a big reason why he has been able to face his demons and get them under control. His hard work hasn't gone unnoticed as he was named to the team's leadership council over the weekend.
“I wasn't really expecting that, but I think that it says a lot about my journey as far as my growth,” Gregory said. “I think five years ago, this would never even be a conversation. I didn't have any sort of leadership skills and even right now I'm still working on that. One of my things is being more vocal. I haven't been very good at that in the past and I'm trying to do that around the guys.”
Gregory may still be in the process of learning how to have his voice heard but his play on the field during training camp can't be denied. The 2015 second-round pick has shown his incredible speed and bend coming off the edge and why he's been seen as a lock to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker is taking full advantage of his first full offseason since his rookie campaign. But, Gregory has only appeared in 38 games in his first six seasons which means he still has to show and prove in 2021 like he's done with the limited opportunities he's been afforded so far. He recognizes that but also feels he's earned his stripes with his dedication to reaching another level of performance.
“Look, I still have a lot to prove,” Gregory said Saturday. “There's a lot of talk going around right now, and I really believe I'm having a good offseason. But there's still a lot to prove on the field. So don't want to sit here and say, ‘Did you ever doubt that you could get here?' I still feel like I still haven't really, truly arrived. There's a lot for me to do.
“With that said, I still want to give myself a pat on the back. I really feel like I deserve it and I've worked hard to get to this point. From this point on I've just got to put some good play on the field and stay out of trouble, which I'm trying to do, and be the guy that everyone expects me to be and I expect myself to be.”
Gregory has seemed to have formed a bond with new Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn. They've been seen several times working on pass-rush drills one-on-one to get Gregory ready for the biggest workload he's ever had as a projected starter. Quinn has been impressed with what he's seen in the extra time he's spent with Gregory and feels he brings unique traits to the table as an edge rusher.
“I'd say he's got a rare ability to bend,'' Quinn said. “That's unusual for a guy who's 6-foot-5.
“If you don't have a good get-off, it's hard to be a good pass rusher. He has that. He's got initial quickness. But I think it's his ability to stick his foot in the ground and bend that makes him so unique. When it's time to twist and he can bend and get outside or inside on a play.”
Randy Gregory getting some extra 1-on-1 work with Dan Quinn. A good rep to Quinn's standards 👀 #CowboysCamp pic.twitter.com/IIea060D7l
Randy Gregory getting in some individual work with Dan Quinn pic.twitter.com/JjuO3tv4jN
The 2021 season isn't just an opportunity for Gregory to take his game to a higher plateau. He's also playing for a new contract and a big year will undoubtedly bring him a lot more coins. However, Gregory isn't interested in negotiations at the moment.
“I truly don't get caught up in the contract talk,” Gregory said. “I don't think I deserve the right to sit there and talk about contracts right now. I'm perfectly happy with the amount of money I make. I really am.
“If I go out there and do what I need to do and we get the wins we expect to get, then the money will come in the future.”
Gregory's mindset and dedication are right where it needs to be going into the most important season of his career.