In a move that’s been expected for about a week now, the Cowboys officially recalled guard La’el Collins from the Injured Reserve list. He has been recovering from surgery on his right great toe back in early October. He began practicing yesterday, doing individual drills only.
Collins was one of three players eligible to return; quarterback Kellen Moore and rookie defensive end Charles Tapper were the other two. Moore was never expected to return this year after ankle surgery in August. There has also been no indication that Tapper, who went on IR in late September with back injuries, is healthy enough to return.
Much like a player returning from the Physically Unable to Perform list, Collins now has a 21-day window to practice with the team without counting against the 53-man roster limit. That window would immediately close, though, if he were to be active for a game.
While he entered 2016 as the starter at left guard, La’el Collins is not expected to get the job back during this postseason. Ronald Leary has had arguably his best season as a Cowboy and it’s too late in the year to create any continuity issues, especially now that Dallas is in the tournament.
La’el will serve as a backup guard and perhaps also at tackle, where he played in college. He is a depth upgrade over Joe Looney at the guard spots. Dallas will likely retain Emmett Cleary as the swing tackle, though, given his performance over the last few weeks.
After also adding guard Jonathan Cooper on Wednesday, Dallas will be fairly loaded with their offensive line depth. They did get an open roster spot yesterday with Randy Gregory’s suspension being announced, so that could be used to fully activate La’el Collins. However, with Collins still a roster exemption until he dresses for a game, Dallas might add another body on the defensive line for now.
The postseason is a tough time for all NFL players. Wear and tear on bodies increases and injury risk is at its highest. La’el Collins may not play a single snap for Dallas for the rest of the year, but this could wind up saving our season if a need arises.