The Cowboys offensive line has been an integral part of the team’s successes in recent years. When healthy, the offensive line in Dallas is often one of the best in the business. However, when it is not (like last season), so goes the season.
Consequently, the relative health of the offensive line has been a hot topic amongst Dallas fans. After seeing two of the five lineman go down early in the year and another later in the season, fans are eager to see the line back together.
If it can stay together in 2021, there is no telling what the Cowboys may accomplish. But it looks like keeping the unit together may be easier said than done. For the second time during training camp, La’el Collins had to leave practice.
He left practice on Friday with what was later called a stinger in his neck. Collins left practice on August 18th with a neck injury as well. The next day he returned to practice, and he played in the preseason game against the Texans a couple of days later. Barely a week later, he is out of practice with a neck injury yet again.
Stingers are not necessarily considered severe and rarely are. He could very well be fine the next day and have no lasting effects within a couple of days. But it could also be something more serious, and if he does not take enough time off to recover completely, it could become a lingering problem.
Should that become the new reality, that could mean not knowing when one of the better offensive tackles in the game will be in the lineup—which will subsequently impact the effectiveness of the run game and the quality of Dak Prescott’s protection.
If he is the only injury the team must deal with on the o-line, the Cowboys might be able to manage. Last season’s backups, Brandon Knight and Terence Steele, got valuable experience with Collins and Tyron Smith missing so much time. But neither performed well and graded out amongst the worst tackles in the league according to PFF.
Although, the offseason acquisition of Ty Nsekhe may be the band-aid the team needs. The 35-year-old has spent time in the AFL, AFL2, Canadian League, and NFL over the years. But he graded out last season with a respectable 80.3 (89.9 run blocking; 62.4 pass blocking).
However, should Tyron Smith struggle with injury issues again, as he has in recent seasons, the Cowboys could be in trouble. After committing so much money to Dak Prescott, it is unlikely the Cowboys will want to take any chances with his protection.
What does that mean? As teams cut down to the 53-man roster limit in the days to come, expect the Cowboys to be actively combing the waiver wire for help. If they can’t find it via the wire, it would not be shocking to see them trade for help before week one of play.