Cowboys DE Randy Gregory expected to play in Sept. 9 opener

OXNARD, Calif. -- Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he expects Randy Gregory to be able to contribute to the defensive line rotation when the Dallas Cowboys open the season against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 9.

"Yes, I do," Jones said after Gregory went through team drills for the first time in training camp Sunday.

Gregory missed all of last season because of suspension and has played in just two of the past 32 regular-season games because of multiple violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. He has not played in a regular-season game since the 2016 finale against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he recorded the only sack of his career. He opened camp on the non-football injury list with the Cowboys wanting him to work on his conditioning after such a long lay off.

He went through individual drills for the first time on Saturday and took part in about 10-15 snaps of 11-on-11 work on Sunday.

Gregory has not spoken to the media since camp began.

"I just know that his attitude, his want-to, his genuineness, those are things that I've heard players talk about but I would say it's more all the way up through the organization," Jones said. "Everybody here is rooting for him. He doesn't want any slack, but I know he sees the care that everybody has for him and I did notice some of his trademark skill out there on a couple of snaps he had out there today. You could see the [sleekness]. He's just got the ability to create some pressure.

The Cowboys took Gregory in the second round of the 2015 draft. He missed four games as a rookie because of an ankle injury and then missed the first 14 games in 2016 because of suspension. He was not around the team throughout 2017 and was reinstated by the NFL only shortly before camp started.

Jones did not shy away from the suggestion that the organization remained in Gregory's corner because of his pass-rush ability.

"We certainly have had players that have had challenges -- if you will, dependence," Jones said, "and we've had players that have overcome that and get to play in the National Football League. So when you have one, that really burns a candle and gives you a lot of tolerance is not the word, but it just fives you a lot of promise. So, yes, I'd rather lean that way than the other way. Now the problem is reality sets in and you have numbers, you have roster spots, you have a lot of things that keep you from really having to limit the players and consequently it has to be extraordinary players ... and so you get the old adage that, 'Well, he wouldn't be doing that for a down-the-line guy. They wouldn't be that tolerant of a down-the-line guy.' Well, that's true."