After making the switch from guard to tackle this offseason, Dallas Cowboys’ lineman La’el Collins says his new position feels natural.
One of the most intriguing storylines of the Dallas Cowboys‘ offseason concerns the future of their offensive line. Considered by many to be the best overall positional group in the NFL, the Cowboys O-line has suffered a couple significant losses already this year.
Longtime starting right tackle Doug Free decided to hang up his cleats and retire after 10-seasons in Dallas. And starting left guard Ronald Leary found a new home with the Denver Broncos via free agency this offseason. Now, it appears both players will have the honor of being replaced by Cowboys’ fourth-year lineman La’el Collins.
Collins’ replaced Leary as the Cowboys starting left guard back in 2015. But a toe injury suffered by La’el early last season opened the door Ron to take the starting role once again in Dallas. Leary parlayed that into a four-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos in March.
Fully recovered from the toe injury that landed him on Injured Reserve last October, Collins was excepted to return to his starting role at left guard. But the unexpected retirement of Free appears to have shifted those plans.
According to Collins, the Cowboys have played him exclusively at right tackle all offseason. And the 23-year old lineman says it’s been a very smooth transition for him.
"“It’s weird because I feel like if you change positions and you’re doing everything out of an opposite stance, that it would take time, but it just feels damn natural to me,” Collins told ESPN.com earlier this week. “It just feels natural. It just feels good. It all comes with focus and being locked in and staying locked in throughout everything, understanding my footwork, understanding where I need to be, understanding football.”"
Although Collins has been cemented at right tackle all offseason, the move should not be considered permanent quite yet. The Cowboys coaching staff absolutely knows the three-year veteran lineman can start at left guard if needed. Getting Collins comfortable at right tackle simply gives Dallas more options.
Whether La’el Collins starts at right tackle or left guard for the Dallas Cowboys when the regular season begins will likely depend on whether the team can find a reliable option to fill the other vacant spot along their offensive line. Regardless of where he starts, Collins will be a big part of the league’s most dominate and scariest positional group in 2017.