As we approach the preseason opener in Los Angeles this weekend, we inch closer to having our questions about this current Cowboys roster answered. The group which faces the most of these doubts and questions is certainly defensive line. Particularly about their ability to rush the passer.
We all know the problems plaguing the unit, as both projected starting defensive ends are facing suspensions, and young guys with barely any NFL experience at all are being asked to fill the void.
Of course, there are many who are holding out hope for this unit after-all, considering their athleticism and upside. Regardless of how you feel individually, we will have a clear cut answer about these edge rushers rather quickly.
In contrast to the famine of talent which presents itself on the defensive line, the Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the big-men upfront on offense. With La’el Collins emerging as the long term starter at left guard, otherwise quality starter material is being wasted on the sidelines in Ronald Leary.
Since Leary cannot play center, it is hard to imagine he will even be active on gamedays this season, meaning both his talent and time will be wasted here in Dallas. No, I don’t believe he is as dominant a lineman or has as high a ceiling as the other three interior starters for the Cowboys, but Leary could start without question on just about any other NFL roster.
All of the reports out of camp have talked about Leary being in incredible shape, and performing better than he has since 2014. Now that he is a backup to Collins and Zack Martin, Leary should see increased time in the preseason, something he hasn’t had during his last few seasons in Dallas.
This is where Leary can really help.
With that extra playing time Leary can help both himself and the Cowboys, by giving them the best of both worlds.
Put simply, the offensive line is strong, the defensive line isn’t. If you have an extra offensive linemen who, while disposable on your roster would be very useful on someone else’s, you should use that player to help bolster the weaker of the two units.
Though nobody likes to see it, players are going to suffer serious injuries during these next four preseason games. Some of them, just by the brutal nature of the position, will be offensive linemen. After seeing what Leary has been doing in Dallas, those teams might just come calling.
Ronald Leary isn’t going to yield the Cowboys an All-Pro defensive end. He probably isn’t going to yield the Cowboys an 8-10 year starter who will rack up double digit sacks this season. But what he can bring the Cowboys is another piece, whether that be a veteran guy or a younger player, to help bolster a unit which now faces more questions than they have answers.
While the Cowboys don’t seem to have been active in shopping Leary lately, there is a chance that his play in the preseason can bring Dallas some much needed edge-help.