All 32 teams want to go into Week 1 and set the tone for the season with a victory, but only half of them can. The Dallas Cowboys hoped that they would not only get a win, but by defeating the reigning Super Bowl Champions in their own house, also establish the kind of dominance the team is striving to get back to. A two-point loss on a last second field goal against any team led by Tom Brady is a victory of sorts, but the biggest loss comes as key players on the Cowboys roster will be on the sidelines next week dealing with injuries and off-field issues.
The off-field issues could be one of the bigger story lines as the Cowboys go into LA and try to knock off a Chargers team that is riding high on a Week 1 victory over the Washington Football Team. La’el Collins, the Cowboys starting right tackle, was issued a five-game suspension without pay at the end of last week for “violations of the league substance abuse policy.”
Collins plans to appeal the suspension, citing vagueness in the rules and other issues relating to the recent Covid-19 outbreak among players on defense. The suspension was issued because Collins has failed to appear for seven drug tests dating to August 11. The NFL and NFLPA rules stipulate that players who “fail to cooperate” with test administrators face fines for first, second, and third violations with a three-game, four-game, and eight-game suspensions for fourth, fifth, and sixth failures to cooperate. A seventh infraction results in an indefinite banishment from the league.
The issue is that Collins did not “fail to cooperate,” he simply didn’t show up for testing. Under the rules, there is no suspension for missing tests as punishment. Players who fail to appear for testing can only be fined under the newest collective bargaining agreement. According to unnamed sources, Collins has been tested roughly 10 per month over the last 18 months without a failed test.
The Cowboys hope to have All-pro guard Zack Martin back from the Covid list before facing LA, but Martin will need to pass two tests at least 24 hours apart while remaining symptom free for 48 hours. In his absence, Connor McGovern will get the start.
The biggest injury the Cowboys suffered against Tampa Bay was to wide receiver Michael Gallup who exited the game in the second half with what was initially listed as an ankle injury. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the injury is a calf sprain that will sideline the receiver for multiple weeks. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb will continue to be the #1 and 2 receivers with Cedric Wilson moving up the list.
The Cowboys still list two players in Covid protocol, Martin and Tackle Brandon Knight who is considered a high-risk close contact player. Knight and Martin were put on the Covid list on September 5.
The Cowboys travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers at SoFi stadium on Sunday. Getting the proper personnel on the offensive line will be vital to getting a win against an aggressive defense led by disruptive pass rusher Joey Bosa.