If you have had a casual conversation with someone about this Sunday’s Dallas Cowboys game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks, then the subject of the latter’s famed “Legion of Boom” likely come up. While the Seahawks do feature Jamal Adams in their secondary, the reality is that overall that group is hardly what it once was at its peak. We all tend to fall into patterns when it comes to position groups for various NFL teams as we look at the league as a whole, and the same certainly bears true for the Cowboys as far as how others see them.
A great example of this is the offensive line. Casual NFL fans likely assume that the offensive line is still among the best in the league because that’s what it has been for some time, but you, the educated fan, know that this group has had its fair share of struggles throughout this young season.
A new report indicates the situation could be dicey for a little while longer.
La’el Collins “does not appear on track” to return to the Cowboys in Week 4
Entering the year, you would have been hard-pressed to find a Cowboys fan who didn’t think that the team had one of the better pairs of tackles throughout the whole league. Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are certainly extremely talented, but as it is often said in sports, the best ability is availability.
Two games into the season, the Cowboys have only seen one start from those two players as Smith missed last week’s contest against the Atlanta Falcons and Collins was placed on injured reserve before the season began. Normally going on injured reserve would cause a higher level of panic, but due to Covid-19 protocols injured reserve is merely a three-week situation at minimum which is why we are seeing so many teams put players on there.
As Collins was placed on injured reserve before the season began, he is eligible to return to the team in Week 4 (next week). The Dallas Morning News has a newsletter that is emailed out to people throughout the week, you can sign up for it right here, and in Friday’s edition it was noted by Michael Gehlken that Collins “does not appear on track” to return at that point.
While Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith has yet to be ruled out for Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, concern is palpable at The Star. There seems to be a general understanding this neck injury is something the team will have to manage carefully for a prolonged period. He didn’t practice Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll likely see his practice reps limited even in weeks when he does play.
Meanwhile, relief is not imminent at right tackle. Any player who begins the season on injured reserve can return to practice and play a game as early as Week 4. Right tackle La’el Collins does not appear on that track. While wide receiver Ventell Bryant (knee, injured reserve) has worked on the side field with an athletic trainer during practices this week, Collins has yet to reach that phase of his rehabilitation.
While it is certainly great to see that Ventell Bryant is making progress, it is obviously concerning to see not only that Smith’s situation is something causing concern and one that will have to be managed carefully for a “prolonged period.” Again, we are only in Week 3.
A shaky situation at either tackle spot is obviously a concerning one for any NFL team, but the Cowboys have what they projected to be their primary swing tackle in Cam Erving also on injured reserve. Rookie UDFA Terence Steele had beaten Erving out to start at right tackle in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, and while his development is extremely impressive the fact that he could be the plan for some time will likely cause some to lose sleep.
Jerry Jones said earlier in the week that the Cowboys partly sat Tyron Smith against the Falcons in consideration of the fact that this is a long season. He noted that had they done some things differently that Smith could have maybe played, but that they played it safe in the best interest of the season as a whole.
None of this is shocking considering Smith’s health has been a bit of a question mark for a few years now, another point that Jones referenced. Still, though, it is obviously a bit unnerving to go into any NFL game without your starting tackles and it appears that this could be the case for the Cowboys at another point this season, perhaps as soon as this week in Seattle.
Mike McCarty was asked about the status of La’el Collins during his Friday press conference by Michael Gehlken and coach gave a perfunctory answer.
Cowboys RT La'el Collins (hip, injured reserve) is eligible to resume practice next week. Mike McCarthy: "That determination hasn't been set yet. I just know in the training room meeting yesterday, he's making progress."— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 25, 2020