Cowboys second-year defensive end Randy Gregory, who will miss the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, was spotted earlier this week at the team's annual golf event. And while he didn't talk with the media, owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones spoke highly of the 23-year-old pass rusher who arrived in Dallas with plenty of baggage.

"As far as Randy, it is a big step for him to be out here interacting, a big smile on his face and meeting people," Stephen Jones said, via the team's website. "This is good for him, and I appreciate him being out here."

Jerry Jones added: "Randy had the highest we have on record SAT scores that we have signed. So I enjoy conversations with him. There is no misunderstanding with Gregory and where his obligations are and what he needs to get done. We don't have to worry about that part because he understands. So how is he is doing? He is doing excellent. I think all thumbs are up."

In terms of raw talent, Gregory was one of the best players in last year's draft, but off-field issues -- including a failed combine drug test -- saw him slip to the second round. He played in 12 games as a rookie and while he didn't record a sack, he was responsible for 16 quarterback pressures.

But the Cowboys aren't worried about Gregory, the football player.

"He's got gifts. He understands he has gifts, God's gifts," Jerry Jones continued. "He's got great human skills, personality. He is nothing short of brilliant. Certainly he has his demons. A lack of understanding of where he is is not one of them.

"We pray for him. We want him to him to have the kind of career his gifts would allow him to have, which is an exceptional, exceptional football player. He is probably the top rusher in the last two drafts. We need him. We want to get him back."

Still, the Cowboys are maintaining a tough-love approach with Gregory; in February, after the NFL announced that Gregory would be suspended, coach Jason Garrett spoke in frank terms about expectations for the defensive end.

"We felt like we put a really good structure in place for him to help him overcome it," Garrett said at the time. "Unfortunately, over the course of the season, he slipped up. He made a mistake. There are no excuses. We're all disappointed with what that is, but now we have to move forward. He has to move forward, he has to put it behind him."

Three months later and Gregory appears to be on the right track. And that's great news because, as Jones points out, the Cowboys' defense is in desperate need of a playmaker and Gregory could be just the guy for the role.

The Cowboys are taking a tough-love approach with Gregory. USATSI