Randy Gregory slowly finding a rhythm

IRVING, Texas -- This is not the season Randy Gregory envisioned. Nor did the Dallas Cowboys.

As the Cowboys head into the final month of the season, Gregory has six tackles and no sacks. The sack total is surprising, considering Gregory was supposed to be among the finest pass rushers in the 2015 draft.

Off-the-field issues pushed him into the second round, but he's had no issues in that area with the Cowboys. A high ankle sprain in Week 1 forced him to miss five weeks, and he didn't do much upon his return. The Cowboys have been using him primarily on third down, where he can focus on rushing the passer.

Gregory probably played his best game Thursday against Carolina, finishing with a season-high three tackles and one quarterback hit, but he spent much of the game harassing Cam Newton.

"We just want to get him more snaps," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's dealt with some injuries and we're just trying to get him healthier, and as he's gotten more healthy we want to get him out there in more situations.

"He played better against Carolina. He was more active and around the ball a little more and we want to get him some more snaps going forward."

Gregory, who's playing about 19 snaps a game, is everything physically the Cowboys want in a pass rusher. He's got first-step quickness, long arms and natural bend to get around the edge and pressure quarterbacks.

Now, it's just time to make some plays.

"When you’re out there, do your job," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "Just go do your job a little bit better, be on the screws a little more and on the details a little and the improvement starts.

"When you develop a skill, it's all mental toughness. Our system is tough because it’s about skill, and you’ll never have it. You’ll never get it all right, but if you go do it every week, the confidence kind of comes."