Suspension of damage Cowboys’ pass, but open the opportunity

OXNARD, Calif. — Football coaches like to say that injuries present opportunities for other players. While that is true for the Dallas Cowboys, suspensions also present opportunities.

Randy Gregory is out for the season because of multiple violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. David Irving will miss the first four games of the season after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Damontre Moore will miss the first two games because of a substance-abuse policy investigation.

Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton each could see their responsibilities increase given the suspensions across the Cowboys' defense.

Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton each could see their responsibilities increase given the suspensions across the Cowboys’ defense.

Gregory’s suspension might have led to the Cowboys adding Moore in the offseason as a free agent, but all three would have been valuable parts to a defensive line rotation in 2017.

Gregory played in just 13 games in his first two seasons, mostly because of suspensions. He has recorded just one sack, but the Cowboys had hoped things would eventually work out to where the former second-round pick would get a chance to play again. Nobody knows for sure if that will happen. The team can have only minimal contact with him during the suspension. (He is eligible to return after the season.)

The Cowboys knew Moore’s suspension was a possibility because of an arrest last December when he played for the Seattle Seahawks, but Irving’s suspension was a surprise.

“I winded up taking some products that had a banned substance,” Irving said. “The substance wasn’t listed on the bottle. It happens, and it happened to me. You live, learn and move on.”

Moore apologized for his mistake

“I made my bed, and I’ve got to lie it in,” he said. “I just wanted to apologize to the Cowboys organization and the fans for my past even following me. I also want to show them by coming here and working hard each and every day that I’m here to make the best of this opportunity.”

Gregory is not allowed at training camp, but Irving and Moore can practice and play in preseason games. Starting the first week of the season they will be banished. And that has created opportunity.

So far in camp, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence have lined up as the starting left and right defensive ends. Benson Mayowa, who led the Cowboys in sacks last year with six, has been working at right defensive end in the nickel defense. The Cowboys drafted Taco Charlton in the first round to help the pass rush immediately. With the suspensions, they will count on him even more.

Charles Tapper did not play as a rookie in 2016 because of a back injury. The Cowboys hope his speed can help them get to the quarterback. Lenny Jones, Lewis Neal and Richard Ash may not have had the cleanest routes to making it at the start of camp, but the losses of Moore and Irving open a spot on the roster, if not two.

“I like our depth that we’ve got in the defensive front as far as some of the guys that won’t be with us early there,” team owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “That’s promising.”

But the Cowboys don’t have that “war daddy” he craves so badly.

“Let me say this, there’s parts of one out there, I know that,” Jones said. “Now it may take three of them to get him, but he’s out there. I’m talking about the rotation of the numbers. I like our numbers. I see how we can play. Some of the greatest successes that I’ve had with the Cowboys was when we’ve had a defensive line rotation. I’ve always looked for the promise of that.”

Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones not worried about new allegations

CLEVELAND — With another allegation involving a former girlfriend coming to light over the weekend, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and owner/general manager Jerry Jones said they were not concerned these issues keep coming up.

Elliott simply said “no” when asked if he was concerned following the Cowboys’ 35-10 win against the Cleveland Browns, in which he rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

On Sunday, Jones reiterated that he is not worried about Elliott possibly being suspended at some point this season.

“Everything, everything that I know regarding any of Zeke’s behavior makes me satisfied that we don’t have any issues,” Jones said. “And I know about all of those things. I know everything, yes, there’s been nothing, nothing that I didn’t know about that anybody has brought up. I’m very comfortable that I’ve got Zeke’s full story. I’m real comfortable. And we haven’t been worried about that since training camp.”

According to USA Today, which cited an incident report, police in Aventura, Florida, were called to Elliott’s apartment to investigate an altercation with a woman in February.

The alleged incident involved the same woman who made a domestic abuse claim against Elliott in July. The NFL’s investigation is ongoing; however, prosecutors in Ohio declined to press charges over the summer in a domestic violence case, citing conflicting and inconsistent evidence.

In the February incident, the accuser alleged that Elliott, who was training in Florida, had pushed her against a wall, which resulted in left shoulder pain, according to the report. There were no physical signs of injury and no independent witnesses.

Elite Ezekiel Elliott Jersey

Dallas Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott(Ezekiel Elliott Jersey) has been accused of domestic violence but has denied the allegation.

A woman who says she’s Elliott’s former live-in girlfriend has accused the former Ohio State star of assaulting her multiple times over the past week, according to police reports filed Friday morning in Columbus, Ohio, and obtained by ESPN.

Elliott, who turned 21 on Friday, denied assaulting the woman and told police that he never lived with her. He has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

The Cowboys are aware of the police reports but have not officially commented. The NFL will review the case under its personal conduct policy, a league representative told ESPN.

The woman, identified as Tiffany Thompson, told police that Elliott assaulted her while they sat in a parked car early Friday morning, according to one police report. She told police that she had pain in her right wrist and a red mark but declined medical treatment, according to the report.

Four witnesses, including one who was sitting in the car at the time of the alleged incident, told police that they did not observe an assault.

Thompson also accused Elliott of striking her “several times” and “leaving bruises on her arms” over a five-day period from Saturday to Wednesday, according to a second police report. Elliott, however, told police that he never touched Thompson in “a harmful manner,” saying she suffered the bruises during a bar fight.

Thompson told police that she lived with Elliott for about three months, but the running back said that he only paid for her rent and co-signed on her vehicle.

Columbus police have referred Thompson to the prosecutor’s office, citing “conflicting statements” between Elliott, the woman and witnesses along with “the inability at the time of the report to prove recent co-habitation.”

Elliott’s father, Stacy Elliott, released a statement Friday afternoon, saying his son “has done nothing wrong.”

“The reported allegations and Internet postings regarding our son are completely false,” Stacy Elliott said. “Ezekiel has done nothing wrong. The police have investigated this matter and eyewitnesses have verified the lack of any wrongdoing. The actual evidence in this matter clearly indicates what the real motivation was behind the police being called. We are confident that when the truth comes to light it will reveal the falsity of these claims. Ezekiel has been fully cooperative with the police and will continue to do so — along with cooperating with the NFL — moving forward.”

ESPN typically does not release the names of alleged domestic violence victims, but Thompson, 20, posted Instagram photos Friday showing bruises on her body. One of her posts was tagged to Elliott.

Thompson’s Instagram account was made private later Friday morning.

The Cowboys selected Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft. Elliott rushed for more than 1,800 yards in each of the past two seasons at Ohio State and scored 41 touchdowns over that stretch.

Elliot’s No. 21 jersey with the Cowboys has been the top-selling jersey on NFLShop.com over the past three months, based on sales from April 1 to June 30.