WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–Defensive end Randy Gregory has been reinstated from suspension on a conditional basis and he is headed to training camp with the rest of the team on July 24.

Per the NFL in a press release, Gregory may join the Cowboys at training camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work, and similar activities.

Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Gregory’s clinical resources in Dallas, and subject to continued compliance with the terms of his reinstatement and all aspects of the Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse, per the collective bargaining agreement, he will be permitted to participate in all activities, including practices and games.

This is a huge step in the right direction for Gregory, who has played in just 14 games since the Cowboys picked him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He played in 12 as a rookie. In 2016, he missed the first 14 games under NFL suspension, returned for two games at the end of the season before being suspended indefinitely Jan. 16, 2017.

Gregory has been working with former Oakland Raiders defensive end Greg Townsend in hopes dusting some rust off his game in case he was cleared for camp.

The Cowboys are as deep as they have been in a long time at defensive end. Gregory joins DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Kony Ealy, Charles Tapper and rookie Dorance Armstrong on the edge.

–Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will play the 2018 season under the franchise tag, as expected. Lawrence has already parlayed his breakout performance of 14.5 sacks in 2017 into a $17.1 million contract in 2018, per the terms of the franchise tag.

The sides never really got into a heavy discussion regarding a long-term contract extension because there was too much uncertainty regarding what to pay Lawrence, who had only nine sacks his first three seasons combined.

The Cowboys don’t believe he is a one-hit wonder because his dominance in 2017 was transcendent and his work ethic can’t be questioned.

He had a team-leading 52 quarterback pressures, more than the next two Cowboys combined – Tyrone Crawford (26) and Maliek Collins (25).

But there is also nothing wrong with letting him put together another strong season to remove all doubt, especially when you consider that Lawrence is seeking a big-money extension that will pay him among the top five players at his position in the league, if not No. 1.

New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon is the current standard bearer, signing a five-year, $85 million contract in 2016. His contract is a starting point for Lawrence. Not coincidentally, they both share the same agent.

TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP

–Find a defensive tackle. With Maliek Collins expected to be slowed at the start of camp because of offseason foot surgery and David Irving out the first four games of the season due to an NFL suspension, the defensive tackle position is a focal point of training camp. The Cowboys must find some capable bodies to hold down the fort until Collins and Irving are ready. Jihad Ward, Brian Price and Richard Ash are the primary contenders. The Cowboys are excited about the potential of Ward who came over in a trade from the Oakland Raiders where he played out of position in their 3-4 defense. The Cowboys believe Ward has the chance to develop quickly in the Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme.

–Trade for Earl Thomas. The Pro Bowl safety plans to hold out from training camp with the Seattle Seahawks if he doesn’t get a new contract or get traded. He is interested in joining the Cowboys and the interest is mutual. This could happen during camp or before the start of the season. Secondary coach Kris Richard came to Dallas in the offseason after serving as the defensive coordinator in Seattle. He envisions Thomas becoming the quarterback of the Cowboys defense. Per a source, Thomas would already be with the Cowboys if a contract extension was the only obstacle. It’s a matter of finding an agreeable trade with the Seahawks, whose demands so far have been too high.

–Get Dak Prescott on the same page with his receivers. Prescott was criticized the past couple of years for not developing any chemistry with the departed Dez Bryant. He has worked hard in the offseason to get on the same page with his new receivers on the Cowboys, especially free-agent additions Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson and rookie third-round pick Michael Gallup. They spent time in Orlando working out before camp. But the real work will take place in training camp.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE

–No. 2 wide receiver. Free-agent addition Allen Hurns will likely slide into Dez Bryant’s spot in the starting lineup and Cole Beasley will remain the slot receiver. So the big question is whether Terrance Williams can hold off rookie Michael Gallup for the No. 2 spot. Williams has been a disappointment and is coming off offseason foot surgery as well as an embarrassing car accident and public intoxication charge. Gallup was considered a big-time steal in the third round who could develop into a No. 1 receiver. He will be a real threat to Williams.