Huskers' Gregory wants to expand game beyond sacks
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Randy Gregory wants to be known for more than just being a pass rusher.
A sack total that jumped off the stat sheet last season helped established him as a possible high draft pick for 2015. The Nebraska junior went into the start of preseason practice Monday night with the objective of becoming a complete player.
''I can't say I want this amount of tackles or sacks or anything like that,'' Gregory said. ''If I feel like I've improved my overall game, I'll be happy. Some other people might not be satisfied, but I'm out here for the team and myself and to help us win championships and make myself a better player.''
Gregory burst onto the scene after missing the 2012 season at Arizona Western Community College because of a broken leg. He arrived in Lincoln a few days before fall practice, made the starting lineup by the second game and finished the season with a Big Ten-leading 10 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
For all his flashiness off the edge, Gregory knows he must get better against the run.
''I think I used my hands real well, but at times I don't use them correctly,'' he said. ''That's a big thing I've been working on, just my get-off, simple things. I know a lot of people see me as a pass rusher, and every day I try to perfect that. Trying to work on my play against the run and just my eyes and reading keys better, that's been big for me this offseason.''
Gregory's difficulty holding his ground against the run stemmed from his struggle to maintain weight. He dropped as low as 230 pounds last season.
Late last week Gregory was up to 248 - ''and a half,'' he added with emphasis.
Some NFL draft projections have Gregory listed in the upper half of the first round next year. Gregory said he wouldn't decide until after the season whether to enter the draft as an underclassman. But he acknowledged he bought an insurance policy two months ago to protect himself in case an injury causes his draft position to drop.
''That usually means you're going,'' said Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and current NFL draft consultant.
Brandt said Gregory is a great talent, but he always would advise an underclassman to stay in school to mature physically and mentally.
''Ideally he should be 275 pounds,'' Brandt said. ''Practice hasn't even started yet. Historically once practices start - and even though they're eating better than before - they usually drop 10 pounds. His whole thing is, right now, he's a very good undersized defensive lineman.''
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Gregory has benefited greatly from spending the summer in Lincoln and training with teammates and the Huskers' strength and conditioning staff.
''He's only scratched the surface of what he's going to be down the line,'' Pelini said.
Pelini is one of the people who have cautioned Gregory about getting caught up in statistics.
''It's about developing yourself, playing fundamentally sound, doing the things that you need to be successful on an every-down basis,'' he said. ''I think he understands that. He's more physically developed than he was when we first got him. And he's continuing to grow, get bigger, and put some more meat on his frame. And as that happens, I think you're going to see a guy who becomes an even more well-balanced player.''