OXNARD, Calif. - Maybe all the Dallas Cowboys ever needed to do was to let Randy Gregory play. And if they do?
"Randy Gregory is as good a football player as this team has,'' says Phillip Tanner, the former Cowboys player and coach, in an exclusive visit with CowboysSI.com on the eve of training camp here in Oxnard. "He's going to make All-Pro.''
And here we are Sunday, two practices into camp ... and guess what Randy Gregory's been?
"We can't block him,'' one staffer said to me following a dazzling workout on Saturday.
He did a lot of everything ...
Here's that reverse ...
Here's the sack ...
Last year, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had, in a staff meeting inside The Star and confronted head coach Mike McCarthy about why Gregory - maybe the defense's most productive player - was so limited in his participation.
Now Gregory himself is speaking out on the same subject.
“I felt there was a little bit of favoritism going on … refusing to let me outshine their favorite,” the pass-rusher says in a lengthy visit with The Athletic. “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 truly felt I got robbed of a year last year.''
And Tanner believes that Gregory, if given the opportunity, will make up for lost time this year.
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Gregory sat out the first six games of the 2020 season due to suspension, but then became a force - on the too-rare occasions when McCarthy and defensive bosses Mike Nolan and Jim Tomsula allowed him to play.
McCarthy has since offered what are frankly lame explanations for the decision. Gregory is offering a more sensible angle: Aldon Smith was a pet of the staff.
In fairness, Smith experienced a hot start to the season, with four sacks in the first three games. But sources tell CowboysSI.com that Smith's behavioral issues started re-emerging right about Thanksgiving, reason enough to open up opportunities for Gregory.
The coaching staff, including since-fired Nolan and Tomsula, refused to do that.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn says he "was surprised (Gregory) didn’t play more,” and plans to rectify that in 2021, which figures to be the first full season for Gregory despite the fact that he'll turn 29 in November.
"I think,'' Quinn says, "he’s going to really take off.”
So, here's some extra work for the take-off ...
Phillip Tanner, who was not retained two years ago when McCarthy took over, has worked with Gregory and the Cowboys from the inside, thinks the same thing. Not just sack numbers for Gregory. Not just acclaim. "All-Pro,'' he predicts.
Two days in? The prediction is right. Randy Gregory is right.
READ MORE: Cowboys Camp Info Stacked Here