The 2020 season was nothing short of a debacle for the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. La’el Collins never played a snap and Tyron Smith was lost shortly after the start of the season. That meant rookie undrafted free agent Terence Steele was required to play all 16 games.
It was an up and down season in 2020 for the rookie out of Texas Tech, but he finished the season strong, showing improved play down the stretch. Now he enters his second season with more competition for snaps on the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. But Steele has a few things going for him that maybe the other guys don’t.
One of the things that Steele has going for him is that he is going to get a full offseason with the team in 2021, unlike last year. In 2020, due to COVID-19 protocols, in-person meetings and workouts were limited. Meaning less time spent with his position coach on the field putting in the work. The abbreviated training camp and no preseason games really limited his development and it showed in the first half of the season.
Steele was thrown to the wolves in the 2020 season and while it was a rough start through the first half of the season, he got his sea legs midway through and played better down the stretch. Imagine how much more prepared he would have been with OTAs, minicamp, and five preseason games?
Do you remember the conversation between Loki and Thanos at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War.
Loki: “If you’re going to Earth, you might want a guide. I have a bit of experience there.”
Thanos: “Well, if you consider failure experience.”
Loki: “I consider experience, experience.”
Steele’s 2020 wasn’t exactly a failure, but there were a lot of struggles as he adapted to playing in the NFL. You’d be hard-pressed to find an undrafted free agent going into their second year with as many snaps under their belt as Terence Steele had in 2020. It may not have always been pretty, but experience is experience and Steele has a leg up on the newcomers in that regard.
It may not have been the plan to thrust Terence Steele onto the field right away, but onto the field, he went with several major injuries along the offensive line. He was the team’s fifth option and they even tried to get Zack Martin on the field in his place late in the season. However, Steele’s experience and relationships with the offensive line and coaching staff should give him a headstart in his competition with Josh Ball and other offensive line options. Steele’s been working with the rest of the offensive line group at Duke Manyweather’s training facility. That should bode well for year two improvement.
With a full offseason to work with the team and review what went well and what didn’t in 2020, Terence Steele has an opportunity to take a big step forward in 2021 and could contend for the swing tackle job if he progresses. At worst, he’ll be a backup option at right tackle should the Cowboys’ injury woes along the offensive line continue into 2021.