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Cowboys News: Explaining the conditional reinstatement of Randy Gregory

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Plus, just how important is Ezekiel Elliott for the Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys v San Diego Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

NFL reinstates Cowboys DE Randy Gregory from yearlong suspension - Todd Archer, ESPN

After all the wait, news finally broke on Randy Gregory’s application for reinstatement to the NFL and it was good news for the defensive end and the Cowboys.

The NFL reinstated Gregory on a conditional basis on Tuesday, allowing him to be at camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities, but he has not been cleared to practice or play in games.

Once arrangements regarding Gregory’s clinical resources in Dallas are confirmed and he continues to abide by the substance-abuse policy, then he will be fully cleared to return.

Cowboys DE Randy Gregory opens up on his conditional NFL reinstatement - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
The lowdown on Gregory.

Gregory was reinstated on a "conditional basis," allowed to rejoin the team at training camp next week for practices, meetings and conditioning. Once Gregory and his team clarify arrangements for his clinical resources in Dallas, he'll be clear to join the team there as well.

Gregory was ecstatic at the decision, he said in a phone call on Tuesday, though not surprised after doing what the league has asked before his petition.

"I'm very excited," Gregory told SportsDay. "Thanks to the ones who supported me and stood by me. It's a lot more to the story than it seems and it took me a lot to get to this point.

"Now I'm ready to make some plays."

What Does Randy Gregory’s “Conditional Reinstatement” Mean for the Cowboys? - Kristi Scales, 5 Points Blue
“5 Things to Know” about Gregory’s conditional reinstatement, including this point.

05. Where Does Gregory Fit Among the DE’s on the Current Roster?

Gregory has a lot of catching-up to do. He missed all of the offseason work and the offseason conditioning program. He hasn’t practiced – much less played in a game – since the 2016 regular season finale in Philly.

If Gregory remains in compliance with the terms set by the league for his reinstatement, then he’ll eventually be allowed to practice. Once that occurs, the Cowboys will integrate him cautiously as he works back into football shape.

Earlier this offseason, the Cowboys attempted to bolster the pass rush by drafting rookie Dorance Armstrong in the 4th round and signing veteran Kony Ealy in free agency. The Cowboys also have Charles Tapper returning to action after missing most of the 2017 season with a foot injury.

Armstrong, Ealy, Tapper, and last year’s 1st-round draft pick, Taco Charlton, and returning veteran Datone Jones will compete for playing time behind starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. Gregory will work to join those players in the rotation of defensive linemen that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will use to rush the quarterback

Gregory's contract status - Todd Archer, ESPN
Many fans have been wondering about this.

Because of the two suspensions, the Cowboys have Randy Gregory under contract through 2020. He signed a four-year deal as a second-round pick in 2015.

Randy Gregory's return could prove bigger for NFL than the Cowboys - Charles Robinson, Yahoo Sports
Gregory's is a pivotal case that one league source hopes could lead to changes in the NFL's program on substance abuse, Robinson explains.

With the most difficult 18 months of his professional life behind reinstated Dallas Cowboy Randy Gregory, the defensive end now faces an even more challenging feat: staying compliant with the NFL’s drug-testing program and presenting a map that could change the way the league handles repeated substance abuse offenders.

That’s what is on the line for Gregory and potentially the NFL at large. It’s a pivotal case that one league source hopes will promote tweaks to the drug-testing program and services offered to players in the next collective-bargaining agreement. The source said Gregory’s reinstatement hearing in front of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell illustrated a designed program intended to treat substance abuse and mental health on parallel tracks. As a result, a player whose NFL career appeared to be over at the age of 25 now has one more opportunity.

Gregory’s previous drug test failings in the NFL have been well-chronicled over the past several years, but there’s a whole other chapter of his story that’s taking place behind the scenes. One that may become more public if he becomes comfortable talking about it. One that, according to those close to him, has involved in-patient drug rehabilitation, aggressive private testing and rigorous mental health counseling. Few players are known to have attacked their personal struggles the way Gregory has since last November, and some within his inner circle hope that his continued success could be a blueprint for others moving forward.

More specifically, there are those in Gregory’s inner-circle who hope it could spur investment by the NFL and players union into more aggressive mental health platforms both during a suspension and then with a more amplified effort after a player is reinstated. Something that might involve a conduit to a more localized form of daily support – whether it’s AA meetings or counseling – near a team’s practice facility.

As one source close to Gregory put it: “One example – and this is really a dumb problem – the NFL separates guys from teams when they get suspended. They can’t practice, can’t be in the facility. They’re just out of sight and mind. That can be the worst thing you can do. A lot of these guys are still kids when they come into the league and fail tests. Now you isolate them and cast them out and it only pushes them deeper into problems. … They need the structure and to be part of something. And then on top of it, they need counseling and substance support meetings and other things that keep them going from hour to hour and day to day.”


Running back rankings: Ezekiel Elliott tops backfield renaissance - Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com
Rosenthal shares his take on the top 32 backs heading into the 2018 season are. Leading the list is none other than Ezekiel Elliott.

Power still has a place in NFL offenses. If anything, the league's trend toward spreading the field with speed on both sides of the ball only makes complete, rugged backs like Zeke more valuable, as undersized defenders bounce off him. The game appears to come easy for Elliott, who is already the league's best pure runner at age 22. There should be another level of play he can reach, and this should be the season he reaches it.

NFL's most indispensable offensive players: Ezekiel Elliott on top - Adam Schein, NFL.com
It goes without saying that quarterback is the most important position in football. But taking the signal-callers out of the equation, Schein ranks the most indispensable offensive players in the NFL heading into the 2018 season - and has Elliott on top.

In the walk-up to the 2016 NFL Draft, I lobbied hard for Dallas to pick Zeke at No. 4 overall. I called it a move that would give the Cowboys the NFC East. And it did -- even after Tony Romo was hurt in the preseason.

Last year, Elliott's impending six-game suspension -- which ended up actually taking place in November/December -- cast a dark shadow over the entire season. In a related story, Dallas missed the playoffs.

Elliott makes Dak Prescott, not the other way around. Elliott controls the clock and preserves Dallas' defense. As a rookie, Elliott carved up the opposition for a league-high 1,631 rushing yards and scored 16 times. In Year 2, he averaged an NFL-best 98.3 rushing yards per game over 10 contests. He's special. And absolutely necessary to this imperfect Cowboys bunch.

With Zeke covering up areas of deficiency, double-digit wins is the expectation in Dallas. Without him, the Cowboys will be watching football in January.


Earl Thomas issues Seahawks a “pay me or trade me” type of ultimatum, Cowboys’ move next - Will Brinson, CBS Sports

This Earl Thomas talk just won’t stop. After all the rumors leading up to and during the draft, the safety from Seattle has added fuel to the fire through social media. His latest attention-grabber was an Instagram post that seemingly offered an ultimatum to the franchise he currently plays for.

And the safety has issued a new ultimatum of sorts to Seattle, posting on Instagram Monday night that he would like to be given an extension or be traded.

There were talks of a Thomas trade during the 2018 NFL Draft, with Seattle hoping to procure a second-round pick from someone in exchange for Thomas. That never materialized, but there is still plenty of chatter about the Cowboys, who made an offer for Thomas midway through the draft, being able to acquire the safety.

Thomas is from Texas and played football at Texas, and the Cowboys trade rumors have existed ever since Seattle eliminated Dallas in 2017, thanks to Thomas telling the team to “come get me” in the offseason.

VIDEO: Dak Prescott's expectations heading into Year 3 - PFF, YouTube
Heading into year three of his NFL career, what can we expect from Dak Prescott? Zac Robinson and Steve Palazzolo use PFF metrics to discuss what to expect from Prescott.

Top 10: Madden ratings released for entire roster - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com

Every year, Madden release roster ratings for their newest game, and the reaction tends to be a lot of shock and “I can’t believe this player is rated so high/low!” With ratings out for the Cowboys roster now, it seems those reactions are remaining largely the same.

There were some surprises throughout the list, but then again, it’s mid-July. The players themselves will have the opportunity to raise their ratings on the actual field.

For now, here’s what Madden 19 has to say about the Cowboys roster:

Byron Jones impressed when covering from the slot in 2017 - Pro Football Focus

Byron Jones is finally moving back from safety to cornerback, but even as a safety in 2017 he spent a lot of time covering receivers in the slot. According to Pro Football Focus, he did extremely well there.

BTB Mailbag: Realistic expectations for the Cowboys’ young secondary - Connor Livesay, Blogging the Boys

Between the young talent and the hiring of Kris Richard, there is a lot of potential tied up in this young secondary. Our own Connor Livesay breaks down what fans can realistically expect from the unit in 2018.

One of the biggest factors in growing as a unit in the NFL is having a coach you believe in and that believes in you. The Cowboys now have that in Kris Richard. Richard has been coaching in the NFL since 2010. Richard had a big hand in building the Legion of Boom or as Richard likes to call it, Love our Brothers. Richard teaches a press-man heavy scheme that benefits bigger, longer, and more physical corners. He has a bunch of those types of guys to work with. Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones are both over 6-foot tall, and Jourdan Lewis has long arms and extremely physical at the line of scrimmage. Richard is teaching specific techniques for disrupting receivers at the line of scrimmage that were proven successful in Seattle. His pupils are already raving about the new attention to detail. There is optimism that Kris Richard can turn this secondary into one of the best, young secondaries in the league by the start of the season.


Despite Jerry Jones’ concerns and Trump's claims, NFL revenues are up, documents show - Peter Dawson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, President Donald Trump and others have said that the national anthem protests and other issues are costing the NFL money. But financial documents released by the Green Bay Packers tell a different story.

And while there is some debate over the extent of the NFL’s ratings problem, the league handed out $8 billion in national revenue to teams this past season. That figure represents a 4.9 percent increase in national revenues. Each team was given $255 million.


From the FanPosts

Our FanPost section is where Blogging The Boys members have the opportunity to write their own posts about the Cowboys. Take a little time to write a post about your thoughts regarding the Dallas Cowboys, and there’s a chance it will be linked right here in our morning News roundup.

Would you do this trade for ET3? (poll) - TheDodger4Pres, Blogging the Boys FanPost

Not that there hasn’t been enough discussion about acquiring Earl Thomas in a trade, TheDodger4Pres presents us with a trade proposal that lands the safety without giving up a first round draft pick. The trade proposal is below, and TheDodger4Pres goes into a breakdown of why each team would be willing to do it. But would you?

Cowboys get: Earl Thomas

Seahawks get: David Irving (assuming NFL approval of trading a suspended player), Rico Gathers, 5th round pick in 2019