How The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Will Look In September


Pulling out the crystal ball in the middle of summer is always a crap shoot. Injuries can throw the best plans array with every NFL team. The Dallas Cowboys have been lucky regarding offensive line injuries the last two seasons. Find some wood to knock on.

Being positive and assuming there are no major injuries in training camp, where the pieces fit with the addition of rookie offensive lineman La’el Collins will be one of the more interesting decisions this coaching staff will make leading up to the season.

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Collins is being handed a starting spot by some fans before the team even gets to California. Maybe it is the excitement of stealing him after the draft or the hype from analysts after he was signed. Whatever the reason, fans should put on the expectation brakes.

If there is one thing we do know for sure it is that current right guard Ronald Leary  won’t give up his starting spot easily.

The same could be said for tackle Doug Free. These two warriors have earned their way in the NFL as much as anyone on the team.

Free has played multiple positions through his career, been battered by fans, and was forced to take a pay cut two seasons ago. Yet his absence at the end of the last season was felt and changed the Cowboys run game for the worse.

Just ask offensive line coach Frank Pollack how important Free is and you will get a lecture. According to his teammates, Free is the glue that bonds the group.

Ronald Leary is one of the most interesting stories on the team. Leary came out of nowhere to make himself a starter. He has battled a persistent bone on bone knee issue that will never heal. The front office, scouting department and coaching staff has not been given the credit they deserve for finding and developing Leary.

As for Collins’ chances of being a starter in September, the jury is still out on his ability to play tackle in the NFL. Based on his physical tools and college career, he is a sure fire bet to at least become a long term starter at guard.

Supplanting Free at tackle is highly unlikely. That leaves Leary’s guard spot and the swing tackle position. Being a rookie and not ready for the tackle spot would leave Collins out of that mix.

Look for lineman Darrion Weems to win the swing tackle position. He has been groomed by the coaches for that spot and the team expects him to meet that challenge this season.

The best bet is for Collins to back up Leary and Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin. If center Travis Frederick were to go down to injury, Martin would slide to center and Collins would move into the guard spot.

Dallas loves bringing in the power package in goal line and short yardage situations so expect to see Collins come in as the sixth lineman in that package.

Depth is a quality of a championship team and the Cowboys have plenty at offensive line. I see no way they would move one of these pieces in a trade.

If you do that, you are one injury away from killing your season. Everyone has seen how important the run game is to the offense and quarterback Tony Romo. Finding yourself thin because of a trade would be unforgivable.

The line will look the same as it did to start the season last year. There is no doubt Collins will become a starter for this team in the future. Just don’t bet your house on it this year.

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