Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins will return on Sunday night against the Vikings after serving a five-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
He will not, however, assume his position on the right side of the line at tackle. Head coach Mike McCarthy spoke with the media on Wednesday and said that Collins will see work at guard.
“We’re going to push him in there,” McCarthy said. “He looks good. He moved well Monday. LC has position flex.”
Collins, 28, had been Dallas’ right tackle since 2017 and had been serviceable. Collins did miss the entire 2020 season due to injury, but he looked good this year in Week 1 against the Buccaneers.
Terrence Steele, 24, has filled the void at right tackle left by Collins and has done it well. The second-year pro out of Texas Tech hasn’t allowed a sack all season long and has taken just three penalties. ProFootballFocus has graded him out at 69.5, above average for the position. Steele’s play is the main reason that McCarthy plans to stick Collins at guard.
“You clearly have to recognize how well Terence played. We all recognize that,” McCarthy said. “Continuity on the offensive line is something that you’re always striving to sustain over the course of the year. The intricacies of what goes on there up front, the reps that they play together is crucial.
“We want to continue to grow that, but also I think this gives us the most competitive, the most depth I know that I’ve had in my time here in the offensive line room.”
Although Collins hasn’t played at guard since 2016, McCarthy has all the confidence in the world that he will adjust well.
“Well, we’ll find out,” McCarthy said. “That’s all part of it. I think position flex is always important. We’ll see how it goes. I look forward to seeing him back out there.
“He’s a pro. LC has gone through a tough spot being out of it here for five weeks. I think he’s done a really good job in the weight room and staying on top of his conditioning. He’s just anxious to get back out there.”