When the La’el Collins suspension news hit heading into week two, many hit the panic button on what the right tackle position would look like with Collins sidelined. While the discussions started with Ty Nsekhe and Terence Steele, many wanted to move Zack Martin out to right tackle, slide Connor McGovern into right guard, and put the best five players on the field.
The Cowboys coaching staff scoffed at the idea and went with second-year offensive tackle Terence Steele, instead of moving Martin or going with the veteran Ty Nsekhe. While not many loved that idea then, many are thrilled that’s the direction they went with now.
Let’s start off by saying that in no world is Terence Steele a better offensive tackle than La’el Collins, but Steele has exceeded expectations so far this season. He played very well in the five-week absence of Collins due to the suspension for attempting to bribe an NFL testing official, along with missing a series of drug tests.
While we got a glimpse of Steele last year in his rookie season, none of his performances were close to the level of play he showed in his five-game stint in 2021. Steele played with better technique, aggression, strength, and athleticism at the position, and while it may not have always been textbook, he got the job done more often than not for five straight weeks against some really tough opponents.
With Collins likely sliding back into the starting lineup when the Cowboys take on the Vikings in week eight, the Cowboys will then move Steele back to the bench. While that may make some fans upset (it shouldn’t), it should make all fans excited to know that they have a capable swing tackle on the roster for the first time in what seems like forever.
The Cowboys already have Connor McGovern as a backup for the interior of the line when he is not busy moonlighting as a fullback or extra blocker lined up as a tight end. McGovern was so highly thought of by NFL personnel that other teams were rumored to be trying to trade for him before the season began.
The also have Steele, and Ty Nsekhe, who filled in well for Tyron Smith when he missed some plays in the New England game, as backup tackles. That is a very solid contingent of backup offensive linemen should any other injuries or issues arise along the offensive line for the Cowboys.
While we often critique the Cowboys front office in a negative way, we need to praise them for building one of the better and deeper offensive lines in the National Football League. The reason this team is so explosive on offense has much to do with the elite play of Dak Prescott, the running back duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, and the array of weapons in the passing game. But none of that would matter if they didn’t have the blocking up front.