It’s hard to rebuild your defense when players aren’t available.

The Dallas Cowboys have tried hard to shore up the side of the ball that has been their biggest weakness over the last few years, but it’s been a chore.

Give Jerry Jones and company credit for trying, but personal accountability has gotten in the way.

Defensive end Randy Gregory has been suspended for the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, fellow defensive end David Irving was lost for the first four games of the season for the same violation and new cornerback Nolan Carroll could face a two-game suspension for a recent DUI.

Add that to defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence being suspended for the first four games last season and add in Greg Hardy’s suspension from two years ago and Rolando McClain’s numerous suspensions over the last few years, and then throw linebacker Damien Wilson’s recent arrest for aggravated assault on top of it — you see the trend.

Personal accountability, for whatever reason, has not been existent on the defense.

You can say the team needs to monitor its players better, but the players need to be accountable. They are making a ton of money to play a sport they love, and they have an organization, teammates and a fan base that relies on them.

Teams can do plenty, but the onus ultimately falls on the actions and judgment of the players themselves.

There are numerous programs in place by the NFL and its teams to support the players in all areas, including the management of their money, personal advisors and so forth.

There are a litany of policies in place by the teams themselves that can help control the behavior of the players, but the teams cannot be responsible for everything they do when they are off the clock.

They can’t strap monitors to their ankles. How would you like it if your employer required that of you, just to make sure you were minding your Ps and Qs while away from the office?

You wouldn’t, and neither would NFL players.

But they have to control themselves, and the period between OTAs and training camp is the most worrisome point of the offseason for all teams.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they’ve had way too many defensive assets become unavailable to them because they cannot seem to behave.

Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Previously spent time as sports editor at both the Hereford Brand and the Gatesville Messenger. Graduate of West Texas A&M University.

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