Cowboys Camp: Five questions facing the offensive line

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 23: Center Travis Frederick
SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 23: Center Travis Frederick /

The Dallas Cowboys have many questions facing their offensive line that need answers. Here are five questions facing the O-line this preseason…

Training camp for the Dallas Cowboys is almost here which means it’s finally time to get answers to our many offseason questions. Some of the most important questions revolve around the offensive line. Considered the backbone of this Cowboys team, the offensive line must find a way to continue its dominance in 2017 or Dallas could find themselves in a troubling situation.

With the free agent departure of Ronald Leary and the sudden retirement of Doug Free, the Cowboys are tasked with replacing two-fifths of their offensive line. Since All-Pros are playing the remaining three spots, the Cowboys have a luxury few teams in the NFL face when replacing key personnel. Even still, the consequences of not adequately replacing Leary and Free are severe, so getting positive answers is paramount early in training camp.

Here are the top five questions facing the offensive line in training camp and beyond:

Question 1: Will La’el Collins seamlessly replace Doug Free?

By all indications, third year pro, La’el Collins, has all but locked up the right tackle position. He’s going to have to prove it in training camp but his offseason work and his blue-chip talent make him the clear favorite.

Whether the switch from Doug Free is seamless or not remains to be seen.  But Collins is considerably more gifted, as such, his ceiling is significantly higher. If Collins can start camp comfortable and without any major issues protecting the edge, it will be a great sign for this offense.

Question 2: Will Chaz Green finally stay healthy?

Chaz Green, a former third round draft pick, was drafted to be the swing tackle and eventual heir apparent to Doug Free at right tackle. The fact that Free just retired and Chaz Green may be switching to guard should tell you something.

The biggest problem for Green hasn’t been his play on the field, but rather his ability to stay on the field. Plagued by injuries, Green hasn’t been able to develop or prove much of anything to the staff. If he can’t stay healthy through training camp he might lose his roster spot altogether. After all, Byron Bell is on staff and capable of playing both guard spots and right tackle.

Question 3: Will Chaz Green move positions?

If Chaz Green really does switch positions it could indicate either good news or bad news. Since Dallas wants it’s five best linemen on the field at the same time, it would be good news for Green if he started at guard. That would indicate the Cowboys consider him a top-5 player and are adjusting to get him on the field.

It would be bad news if he moves but fails to lock down the starting spot. That would indicate he’s not good enough to be a starter and Dallas simply doesn’t know what to do with him.

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Question 4: Can Jonathan Cooper be yet another steal for the Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys seemingly pulled a rabbit out of a hat when they signed first-round-talent, La’el Collins, as an undrafted free agent two years ago. They are hoping they found similar fortune with the signing of former first round pick, Jonathan Cooper.

Injuries, effort, and poor play have made Cooper nothing short of a bust. This may be his last chance to have an NFL career and he seems to know it. Cooper is gaining position flex by learning center and he’s working hard to lock down Leary’s vacant guard spot. He has an enormous opportunity to be the last piece in the league’s best offensive line.

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Question 5: Are the Cowboys preparing for the future?

We all know Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin are going to be Dallas Cowboys for a very long time. But besides those three All-Pros, the future of the offensive line is murky.

La’el Collins and Chaz Green will be restricted free agents in 2018. Jonathan Cooper will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason as well. If any of those three prove to be the answer in training camp, the Cowboys will be tasked with retaining them (no small feat given the financial commitment on the line already).

Are these players stop-gaps or long-term solutions?

Will the answer be apparent in training camp or is this something Cowboys Nation will have to wait for? A lot of questions revolving on the future of this line. The thing to keep in mind is the Cowboys have money to spend right now and want to use it to re-sign their own players.

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Rebuilding a ball-controlling offensive line is of utmost importance for the Dallas Cowboys. Finding answers as early as possible will do a lot towards building continuity for the season and beyond. These are my five biggest questions facing the offensive line this training camp. What are yours?