OXNARD, Calif. -- Randy Gregory admits there were times he thought he would never return to the NFL while he served a yearlong suspension for multiple violations of the substance abuse policy.
Through intense therapy that began last winter and continues now along with medication, Gregory said he is at a point to truly start a career with the Dallas Cowboys that had been held back by dependence and mental issues.
"I've got a good schedule, got around the right people, therapy always has helped and just being consistent with that, a healthy dose of medication," Gregory said Monday, a day after his first full practice of training camp and first since preparing for the 2016 season finale. "And then just being able to realize what I have on my plate, my priorities and being happy not only with what I'm going but with myself internally. That has been the biggest thing, I think."
Gregory has had a sober partner with him throughout training camp and will have someone with him at all times during and after the season to help him cope with issues that played a major part in his fall from a potential high first-round pick in 2015 to the second round.
He would not discuss if he is bipolar.
"I think they have diagnosed me with a lot of things at this point," Gregory said. "I can't really say what I believe is right and what's wrong. I do trust a doctor's opinion over mine, but I also understand that there's a lot of different things you can do throughout that process to make life easier for yourself. And a lot of those things, I was putting in front of myself, self-sabotaging, and had to realize that. Grew up a little bit, and I think I have.
"I can't really address the bipolar thing. I think that's kind of a private matter, but anybody that deals with what I have to deal with and have gone through what I've gone through and understands the process of what I've been through, I think can understand that there's obviously a mental aspect to it along with emotional."
Gregory credited his attorney, Daniel Moskowitz, for guiding him through the league's substance abuse program. He also expressed appreciation for the patience the Cowboys, owner Jerry Jones and his teammates have had with him.
"I think they've believed in me," Gregory said. "First and foremost, they like me not only as a player but a person and that I've always tried to do the right things. I know I always haven't, but I've tried. And I think they realize I was a person in need and sticking by me throughout that tough part and even now has been real important for me to get back, and I think it's worked."
Coach Jason Garrett said Gregory has put in the effort to make his way back to the NFL.
"I do know he's worked very hard at getting himself right to get him to the point to where he can be a football player for us," Garrett said. "We commend him for that. We appreciate all of his effort. I think he appreciates the support we've given him, and hopefully it'll work out."
Jones said Sunday that he expects Gregory, who has one sack in 14 career games, to be able to contribute by the time the season opens Sept. 9 against the Carolina Panthers. The Cowboys worked Gregory into training camp practices slowly, opening with him on the non-football-injury list. He worked to the side on his conditioning then went through walk-through sessions. On Saturday, he worked through individual drills for the first time before being allowed to participate in an entire practice Sunday.
"I think it's been good as far as me getting my feet under me," Gregory said. "It's kind of different pushing weight in the weight room compared to being out in the field pushing somebody that's pushing against you. So that's been kind of different, but it is kind of like riding a bike because I am used to it. I have done it for a long time, that a lot of those things that I think I was good at before, I never really lost. And a lot of things I was working on before and worked on in the offseason that I'm working on now, picking it up a lot quicker now that I'm out there with the guys."