Dallas Cowboys La’el Collins out for season: The fallout and future

La'el Collins #71 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
La'el Collins #71 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Starting right tackle La’el Collins will have season-ending hip surgery leaving the Dallas Cowboys in a tough position.

The best player on the Dallas Cowboys offensive line last season was arguably La’el Collins. While it was Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith who garnered all the attention, recognition and accolades, it was Collins who was playing the best ball from start to finish.

The 2020 season was expected to be his national “coming out” party, as this was the year he’d finally receive Pro Bowl recognition for being the dominant force he is. Sadly, that day of recognition will have to wait at least one more season.

After starting the season on IR and struggling to get his way back, the Dallas Cowboys and La’el threw in the towel and scheduled his season-ending surgery for the hip that’s plagued him since last season.

Dallas Cowboys fallout at right tackle

At face value it may seem like the Dallas Cowboys just intend on doing what they’ve done the first three weeks of the season: Use Terrence Steele at RT.

The future of the right tackle will have more to do with Tyron Smith than it will be about Brandon Knight and Terence Steele

Since Cam Erving, the Cowboys intended swing tackle, has been out three games himself, undrafted rookie Terence Steele has been getting the nod at right tackle. If you remember, Steele suffered a fast and severe illness last week, and was reported to have lost a significant amount of weight. The result was his already shaky play declined below acceptable levels and All-Pro guard Zack Martin was forced to play bookend in place of Steele.

Dallas has no intention of using Martin at tackle in the future. And he will only be used in extreme circumstances. That’s why the primary replacement to Collins this week is going to come down to Steele or Brandon Knight.

The future of the right tackle will have more to do with the health of Tyron Smith than it will about Terence Steele and Brandon Knight. Tyron, suffering from lingering neck stingers himself, is far from a safe bet to play the last remaining 13 games of the season. The nine-year vet hasn’t started more than 13-games since 2015 due to a handful of old man injuries (that’s a technical term, of course).

The Cowboys may want to keep their best tackle sub, Brandon Knight, at the ready for the more important tackle spot, left tackle.  Brandon Knight has proven to be more powerful and technically sound than his undrafted counterpart, Steele. And for the sake of continuity and development, Dallas might not want to bounce him from side to side in the middle of a game.

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While no one wants to move a developing tackle from side to side mid-game, it seems foolish to give more snaps to the lesser player, simply for the sake of a little continuity. That’s why there’s some mystery as to how this week will play out. Again, there’s no telling if Tyron will be able to make it through the opening drive, let alone play the whole game today. If Tyron looks like he’s back, he’s strong, and he can be relied on going forward, the Dallas Cowboys won’t hesitate to move Knight to the right side permanently, thus making Steele the reserve swing tackle going forward.

The goal is always to get the five best linemen on the field at the same time, and that would mean Knight plays before Steele. But if the Cowboys are scared about Tyron being able to finish the game today, they may deviate from conventional wisdom and do just that.

One thing is clear – this is a fluid situation we’ll have to monitor and the key to it all will likely be Tyron Smith’s health. Brandon Knight is the long-term answer at right tackle simply because he’s the better player. The only thing that can change that is if Tyron misses time again and Knight is needed on the left.

Next. Why the Cowboys will win the next five games and start season 6-2. dark

La’el Collins is out for the season but the adjustments made today may not be the solution we see for the rest of the season. Brandon Knight is the ideal long-term solution.

  • Published on 10/04/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 10/04/2020 at 09:06 AM