IRVING, Texas — Randy Gregory, the Dallas defensive end who failed a marijuana test at the NFL combine last year and slid to the second round in the draft, will miss the first four games next season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The NFL announced the suspension Friday, saying Gregory will be eligible for offseason workouts and preseason practices and games.
The former Nebraska star acknowledged his struggles with marijuana after the Cowboys got him with the 60th pick when he had been projected as a top 10 selection. Besides the failed drug test, he canceled pre-draft meetings with some teams.
Gregory spoke frankly early last season about not wanting to let down Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and said he had several conversations with his outspoken boss on the topic.
The Cowboys have been trying to bolster their pass rush since letting franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware go in a salary cap move after the 2013 season. Dallas drafted defensive ends in the second round of the next two drafts, starting with DeMarcus Lawrence in 2014.
The move for Gregory was seen as a low-risk pick since he had been projected as a top-10 talent before the combine. Like Lawrence as a rookie a year earlier, Gregory struggled with injuries and ended up without a sack in 12 games. He missed four games with a sprained right ankle.
Dallas is hoping Gregory follows a path similar to Lawrence, who was strong in the playoffs after missing half of his rookie year when he broke his right foot in training camp.
In his second year, Lawrence led the Cowboys with eight sacks and was by far their best pass rusher late in the season after troubled free agent pickup Greg Hardy faded following a strong start.
It will be the second straight year a key part of the Dallas pass rush will miss the first four games on a suspension. Hardy was sidelined to start last season because of his role in a domestic violence case that kept him out of all but one game in 2014.