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Cowboys news: Gregory filing for reinstatement (at last), and some big position battles to come

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Dez is still in the news as well.

2018 NFL Draft
This guy is getting some early hype, too.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys: Randy Gregory files for reinstatement | Clarence Hill, Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
After weeks of waiting, it looks like we will finally see Randy Gregory filing for reinstatement today. Take a moment to appreciate the work he has put into getting his life and career back on track.

Per the NFL Network, Gregory has recently spent more than six weeks in intensive drug and alcohol rehab in addition to counseling.

That he has is [sic] able to file for reinstatement is a good sign that he has past [sic] muster with NFL doctors and has passed drug tests.

Per source, he met with NFL substance abuse program medical personnel over last weekend in Houston and “everything went well,” clearing the final hurdle for him to apply for reinstatement.

Cowboys' D-line looks ready to return to dominant form - Todd Archer, ESPN
The current group of defensive linemen on the Cowboys' roster looks, well, deep. And it may be more than just homerism.

"It's obviously been a focus of ours and if we can wake up here with 10, 12 guys that we normally think would be penciled in to make the team and have that type of competition level and that kind of depth, it can only make us better," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "We're firm believers that our team starts at the front."
Perhaps come training camp the Cowboys will get another talented piece to the defensive front in Randy Gregory. He was a second-round pick in 2016 but has played in only two games the past two seasons because of suspension. He is close to filing for reinstatement to the NFL, and the Cowboys are not ready to give up on a talent that was projected to be a top-five pick if not for his off-field troubles.
Within the group there is versatility. Crawford can play all four spots. Lawrence can play either side. Irving has been disruptive as the 3-technique and can play end as well. Collins, who is recovering from foot surgery but should be ready for the season opener, can play either interior spot. Marinelli believes Ealy can play inside, too.

Which are the big NFL position battles to watch in the 2018 offseason? - Christian D'Andrea, SBNation.com
It's gonna be juicy.

Cowboys starting wideouts: Terrance Williams vs. Cole Beasley vs. Allen Hurns vs. Tavon Austin vs. Deonte Thompson vs. Noah Brown vs. Michael Gallup vs. Cedrick Wilson

Dez Bryant’s untenable contract led to his departure from Dallas, and Jason Witten’s move from the field to the broadcasting booth leaves a lot of targets for the remaining receivers in Dak Prescott’s arsenal. The question now is who will rise to the occasion and take the Cowboys’ two starting wideout spots. Fortunately, head coach Jason Garrett has plenty of options to which he can turn.

Determining What Tavon Austin’s Role With The Cowboys Might Look Like | David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
There seems to be concern about just what the Cowboys are going to do with Tavon Austin, and whether they really have a clear plan. But his last couple of seasons offer plenty of ways he can be effective.

Watching games from the last two years, the Rams weren’t afraid to use him in a variety of different ways.

He lined up out wide in three-receiver sets, catching bubble screens and running traditional downfield routes.

He motioned across the formation, running jet sweeps and play actions from the slot and from out wide.

He lined up as a single back, taking handoffs and toss sweeps – from both traditional and shotgun formations. He also caught his fair share of swing passes and flare outs from the backfield, as well.

He motioned out of the backfield, forcing defenses to account for a last-second switch from running back to receiver.

Bo Scarbrough + Tavon Austin = The end of Cowboys RB Rod Smith? - Patrick Walker, 247 Sports
Will the arrival of Tavon Austin and Bo Scarbrough wind up making the RB room a bit too crowded for Rod Smith to keep his job much longer?

A tandem with Alfred Morris last season did see the both him and Smith string together impressive performances in the six-game absence of Ezekiel Elliott, and it's a foregone conclusion Morris will pack up and drive his 1991 Mazda 626 to greener pastures after showing there's still tread left on his proverbial tires. For now, that exit immediately promotes Smith to the seat directly behind Elliott, but that's far from a long-term plan.

For his part, Scarbrough is a bully-style runner who can also block and catch out of the backfield, pitting him and his exceptionally inexpensive four-year rookie deal squarely against the older Smith -- who's set to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2018 season, positioning himself for potential contract talks with the Cowboys.

On a team that's proven it places business over loyalty, there will be dark days on the horizon for Smith unless he keeps the two new additions at bay.

Dallas Cowboys' new line coach Paul Alexander is a teacher at heart - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
In all the excitement about Kris Richard and Sanjay Lal, new offensive line coach Paul Alexander has been something of a forgotten man. Yet his role in getting the Dallas line back to dominance is crucial. The team is bringing in a former player of his, Willie Anderson, to add some additional coaching for the O line, and Anderson provided his take on what Alexander brings to the table.

In 1996, Anderson was the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, the 10th overall selection. He was named a Pro Bowler four times. He was an All-Pro pick three times. He started every game he played from 1997-2006. If not for Anthony Munoz, a Hall of Famer, he would be the best offensive tackle in Bengals history.

“Great coaches learn that teachers teach,” Anderson said. “A teacher should never say, ‘I teach math.’ You should say, ‘I teach John math. I teach the student.’ That’s an important of teaching. Don’t say, ‘This is my scheme and we do this.’”

In 23 years as the Bengals' line coach, Alexander adapted. Anderson said he changed based on the personnel he had. He is not just a power-blocking line coach. He is not just a zone-blocking coach. He teaches it all, according to Anderson.

Where Does RB Bo Scarbrough Fit On Cowboys Roster? ✭ Kevin Brady, Inside the Star
A lot of people have Bo Scarbrough as pretty much a lock to make the 53-man roster. But that may be a case of letting our fanhood color our judgment.

In the end, it will probably come down to whether or not Scarbrough can play special teams. He doesn't seem to fit the bill of a return man, but maybe he could work on the kick and kick return teams in different roles. He will have to prove his special teams ability to the coaching staff during the preseason if he hopes to make the final roster.

The best play for Bo Scarbrough may be for the Cowboys to place him on the practice squad. This way the Cowboys can given him another year to develop while still working within their system.

Leighton Vander Esch named one of PFF’s Top Defensive ROTY picks | Zeke Barrera, Cowboys Wire
Want to get a little more hyped about the Cowboys' draft?

Armed with young, premium picks at each defensive level, the Dallas defense may be primed to make the leap as this team enters a new era, led by 2018 first rounder LB Leighton Vander Esch. The Boise State product has plenty of potential, and recently was named the third most likely Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate by Pro Football Focus.

“It remains to be seen how Dallas will deploy their linebackers this season with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith already in the building, but Leighton Vander Esch has a rare ability to just find the ball and get involved in plays. He led the nation in defensive stops in 2017 (76), his first full season of starting at Boise State. His ability to sift through trash and get to the ball is not dissimilar to Luke Kuechly in Carolina, and like Kuechly that extends to coverage, at least when it comes to the short game. Vander Esch was still good in coverage dropping away from the line of scrimmage, but it was the least comfortable area of his game – much like Kuechly in his rookie year – and if he develops that side in the NFL he could become a special player whose raw numbers are too large to ignore.”

Dez Bryant doesn't regret turning down Ravens contract - Frank Schwab, Yahoo Sports
Dez Bryant still hasn’t found a new team, but he doesn’t seem overly concerned.

Bryant did reportedly have one option on the table, and he seemed to confirm that on Twitter. The Ravens reportedly offered Bryant a three-year, $21 million deal. Bryant said no, preferring a one-year deal that would allow him to hit free agency next season.

Even though that offer hasn’t materialized yet, Bryant said on Twitter he has no regrets about turning down the Ravens’ $21 million.

Is 2018 LB Sean Lee's Last Season with Cowboys? ✭ Jess Haynie, Inside the Star
With Bryant and Jason Witten just departed from the team, the idea that Sean Lee could soon leave as well is at the least saddening. While his play this year will be the real determining factor, there are some things that make it less unthinkable than you might realize.

A couple of months ago, I discussed why the Cowboys may not want to restructure Lee's contract to create cap space. Not only is Sean getting older, but his injury issues were back last season with five missed games.

Dallas didn't restructure, leaving themselves the leverage to handle Lee's contract next season in whatever way is best for the organization.

A year ago, I floated the idea that Dez Bryant's wasn't restructured for the same reason. Many scoffed at the notion that Bryant could be released, but we saw what happened.

From a purely financial standpoint, cutting Lee would be even easier than Dez. He would create $7 million in cap space with only a $3 million dead money penalty, whereas as Bryant's release was $8 million saved but another $8 million in dead money.

Unlike Bryant, though, Sean Lee is still performing as one of the top players at his position. He's still justifying his salary, provided his health allows him to stay on the field.