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Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Randy Gregory is preparing to apply for reinstatement to the NFL and Jones is hopeful the defensive end can return to the field in 2018.

“I’m not confident but I do see where his heart is,” Jones said. “He’s one of the smartest people that have played this game. By documentation he is. So he’s smart. That’s a tremendous step. Of course he’s had that same IQ since he’s had these issues. That’s the issues. This is definitely a medical issue. There’s no doubt in my mind (it’s) medical. That’s another campaign right there.”

Jones has said he believes the NFL needs to adjust its substance-abuse policy when it comes to marijuana. Gregory has had multiple violations of the policy for failed tests and missed tests that caused his season-long suspension in 2017. He played in only two games in 2016 and has not been around the Cowboys’ facility since the end of the 2016 season.

“He’s one of the smartest people that have played this game. By documentation he is. … Of course he’s had that same IQ since he’s had these issues. … This is definitely a medical issue. There’s no doubt in my mind (it’s) medical. That’s another campaign right there.””

–Jerry Jones on Randy Gregory

He is eligible to apply for reinstatement and has been meeting what Jones called “subjective,” and “factual” standards in the process. Jones said a lot of the process is confidential and did not go into the part the team plays in Gregory’s reinstatement.

“My point is he’s doing very well and he’s got a lot to play for,” Jones said. “He’s got a new baby. He’s got a lot going for him. He’s very astute about knowing that he’s just got to hopefully do what every one of us has to do: is do better when you’re 24 and 25 than you did when you were 20.”

The Cowboys selected Gregory in the second round of the 2015 draft, No. 60 overall. Jones said Gregory would have been a top-five pick without the off-field issues coming out of Nebraska. A foot injury limited Gregory to 12 games as a rookie and he did not record a sack. A suspension kept him out of the first 14 games in 2016 but he had a sack in one of his two games.

The team was aware of Gregory’s issues before selecting him and hoped it could structure a program around him to help keep him on the field. Despite the suspensions that have caused him to miss 30 of the past 32 games, Jones remains in Gregory’s corner.

“He’s really a good person,” Jones said. “That goes a long way … He’s smart. That’s redeeming. In other words is there a chance that he could get this figured out and be accountable and responsible? There is. Oh, there’s one other little thing: he’s one helluva football player, OK?”

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