Randy Gregory has not played much since the Cowboys made him a second-round choice in 2015, missing 52 games while suspended. But the pass rusher should have played more than he did last season.
He saw action on only 271 defensive snaps in 10 games after returning from a fourth career suspension. Only twice in 2020 did Gregory play more than 40 defensive snaps with 44 a season high.
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and pass rusher Aldon Smith are gone from the 2020 team, meaning Gregory will play more this season.
“I felt there was a little bit of favoritism going on, . . . refusing to let me outshine their favorite,” Gregory told Dan Pompei of TheAthletic.com. “They knew I could do it, so they did what they could to keep me at bay. I had my times when I was angry. I used to talk to [agent] Peter [Schaffer] about it, and the best thing I could do was just go out there on the field with the plays they give me and make those plays worth it. I did that, but I truly felt I got robbed of a year last year.”
Mike Fisher of SI.com has reported that owner Jerry Jones — who long has held Gregory in high regard — confronted head coach Mike McCarthy in a staff meeting last season about why Gregory wasn’t playing more. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn wondered the same after joining the staff and watching film of last season.
“I was surprised he didn’t play more,” Quinn said. “I brought it up to Mike. He was at the top of the list for me as far as defining a role. His playing time is going to increase, for sure. I think he’s going to really take off.”
After allowing the most points in team history, the Cowboys fired Nolan and Tomsula. Smith left as a free agent for Seattle in April.
Gregory, who has openly talked about his social anxiety disorder, should get the best chance he has ever had to put his best foot forward this season.