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EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – Dak Prescott (#4) of the Dallas Cowboys high-fives La’el Collins (#71) during warmups against the New York Giants at the MetLife Stadium on November 04, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo : Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
The Dallas Cowboys got some unfortunate news a day after suffering a gut-wrenching loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL suspended starting right tackle La’el Collins for five games after he violated the league’s substance abuse policy.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, Collins’s five-game suspension stems from missing several drug tests. Collins’ lawyers continue to appeal the league’s ruling on his behalf, arguing that their client’s violation of the policy warrants just a fine and not a suspension. Multiple sources had said that Collins did not fail any drug tests before the league decided to suspend him.
Collins expected to return after the Cowboys vs. Pats game
Collins, who started in Thursday’s opener against the Bucs, will be eligible to return to the Cowboys’ roster on October 18, the day after Dallas plays the New England Patriots. The suspension will deal a huge blow to Collins’ finances as he will miss out on roughly $2 million worth of salary while he is sidelined. As per the collective bargaining agreement, the suspension will void Collins’ current injury guarantee worth $6.48 million in his 2022 salary.
The Cowboys will sorely miss Collins as he has been one of the main regulars in their offensive line. The 28-year-old Louisiana native has started 62 of the 63 games he has played for Dallas since 2015 at right tackle or left guard. Collins missed 13 games in 2016 because of a toe injury and the 2020 campaign due to season-ending hip surgery.
Collins was also dealing with a stinger issue before the start of the 2021 season, forcing him to miss a couple of practices ahead of Thursday’s opener against Tampa Bay. With Collins suspended, that means Dallas won’t have its full starting five offensive linemen for the Cowboys’ first six games of the season.
Will Martin start at right tackle in Collins’ absence?
Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin missed the Cowboys’ season opener against the Bucs after testing positive for COVID-19. The six-time Pro Bowler remains on Dallas’ reserve/COVID-19 list, but he is expected to return for the Cowboys’ Week 2 clash against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Martin could switch to right tackle while Collins is out and keep Connor McGovern at the right guard position, who impressed in his surprise Week 1 start against the reigning Super Bowl champions. Another option for coach Mike McCarthy is to utilize Terence Steele and veteran Ty Nsekhe, who served as the backup offensive tackles against Tampa Bay.
If McCarthy opts for a tackle-for-tackle swap, then either Nsekhe or Steele could start in Collins’ absence. Nsekhe and Steele are no strangers to playing this role, making a combined 14 starts last year.
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