Fair or unfair, it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be without their starting right tackle La’el Collins for about the next month while he serves his five-game suspension handed down by the NFL a few days ago. While there still is a glimmer of hope an appeal could overturn the suspension, or at the very least lessen the number of games Collins would miss, the Cowboys still have to prepare as if No. 71 won’t be available anytime soon.
Being without their starting right tackle is nothing new for the Dallas Cowboys though. La’el Collins missed all of the 2020 season last year with a hip injury. Because of that, Mike McCarthy and company should be well prepared as to how they’ll go about replacing him while he serves his five-game suspension. Or are they?
Unlike last year, the Dallas Cowboys don’t have to replace both of their bookend tackles. That means they should have more options at their disposal, but determining who to slide into the starting lineup is easier said than done. Terence Steele, Ty Nsekhe, and Brandon Knight are all serviceable options, but what about Zack Martin?
After missing Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because he tested positive for COVID, Zack Martin is expected to return to the starting lineup this week. His availability and position flex throws a variable into the decision of who replaces La’el Collins. With No. 70 back, it now becomes a question as to who the Cowboys best starting five are?
Having Zack Martin kick outside to right tackle over his preferred starting right guard position is an option Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff have to consider. They have Connor McGovern to thank for that because of the way he filled in last week at RG with Martin out. This duo is one of the more popular options right now, but is it the best?
Let’s take a look at all of the Dallas Cowboys options to replace La’el Collins…
Option #1 - Zack Martin to RT, Connor McGovern to RG
The only question the Dallas Cowboys need to ask themselves about this combo is whether or not Connor McGovern is a better guard than Ty Nsekhe, Terence Steele, or Brandon Knight are tackles. That’s it! Zack Martin will excel at either position, which makes it all about how the Cowboys feel about McGovern and the other tackles.
Option #2 - Terence Steele to RT, Zack Martin to RG
Terence Steele surprisingly started 14 games at right tackle last season as La’el Collins’ replacement after joining the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He seems to have some of the coaches in his corner and played both right and left tackle during the offseason. If Zack Martin steps back in at RG, Steele could slide into the RT vacancy again.
Option #3 - Ty Nsekhe to RT, Zack Martin to RG
Ty Nsekhe was a free agent addition for the Cowboys this year to hopefully become their swing tackle. It’s a role he’s accustomed to playing, starting 17 out of a possible 82 games in his eight year career. If the Cowboys want to go with a little more experienced player, the 35-year-old may get the nod to take over for La’el Collins at right tackle.
Option #4 - Brandon Knight to RT, Zack Martin to RG
Brandon Knight joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and ever since then has carved out a role for himself as a versatile backup. Over the last two years he’s been a serviceable fill-in and has started a total of 10 games, nine of which came at left tackle last year. He’s probably a wildcard option to step in for Collins, but an option nonetheless.
Which option do you prefer to replace La’el Collins?