Offseason snipers looking for a target for criticism could quite easily aim at Randy Gregory and his current injury absence from Denver Broncos offseason training. GM George Paton spectacularly pulled the carpet out from under Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys to steal away the explosive pass rusher at the 11th hour, much to the delight of Broncos Country.
Winning such a high-profile free agent only affords Paton a limited amount of grace, however. That was driven home when Gregory went under the surgeon’s knife for a bothersome rotator cuff so quickly after penning his monster deal that will likely sideline him until training camp.
Fans eager to see what they have in their $70 million edge rusher will just need to be patient until he is back to full strength. In the meantime, Gregory had been in the building, actively rehabbing and soaking up the new defensive playbook even with his arm in a sling.
Head coach Nathaniel Hackett spoke this week about the levels of comfort the Broncos have in Gregory's general levels of preparation. However, Gregory is still in the midst of the rehabilitation process.
“All those things are day by day. For everything he’s doing, he’s doing a great job of rehabbing, getting his mind right and getting ready to be able to attend training camp and everything,” Hackett explained earlier this week. “We want to be sure that we do the right thing. We want to make sure that we take care of him and we get him ready for that first Sunday.”
Given the substantial investment, wrapping Gregory tightly in cotton wool is perhaps the most prudent option. Indeed, many lessons have perhaps been derived from just how cumbersomely the Broncos collectively handled OLB Bradley Chubb’s ankle injury last offseason.
Having any similar setbacks would seriously derail Hackett’s grand master plan to have a fresh rotation of fast and athletic pass rushers available at all times.
Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero certainly appears to be singing off the same hymn sheet when it comes to closely managing Gregory's return to active duty. In particular, the work Evero has seen the 29-year-old putting in during team meetings should assure fans that Gregory can hit the ground running when it really matters.
“He’s been doing a good job on the things he can control,” Evero said Tuesday. “He’s been great in the classroom; he’s been great asking questions and trying to learn as much as he can. I’m really pleased with what he’s done so far.”
As a rule, Hackett has been keen to stress that the players take high levels of personal responsibility to perform at their best. Making sure that Gregory, and other injured stars, like wide receiver KJ Hamler, return in prime condition is once again one of Hackett’s core collaborative visions.
“All the guys—anyone who has something, we make sure that they’re taking care of their body and that’s about protecting the team,” Hackett said. “You have to make sure you’re protecting yourself and make sure you’re taking care of your body first before you can take care of anything else.”
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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