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Film Room: Despite Penalties, La’el Collins Continues To Improve At RT

Kevin Brady

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La'el Collins

Moving positions on the offensive line isn't easy. Even a change from left guard to right guard can be a headache for most players, so imagine how tough the adjustment from left guard to right tackle must be.

Switching your stance, footwork, and playing style can be challenging for an offensive lineman, and in the case of La'el Collins there certainly have been some growing pains.

Saturday night's battle with All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack was built up as Collins' first real test. An entire half against one of the best edge rushers the league has to offer. After the game, many were disappointed in Collins' performance, mostly due to him being flagged on three occasions.

After reviewing the film, however, I believe Saturday provided reason for optimism about Collins' switch to right tackle.

dalvsoak mack - Streamable

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One of the major concerns I had with Collins moving to right tackle was with his patience in his pass set. Collins has been caught leaning at times, allowing good edge rushers to swipe his hands and fly by him. Sometimes, offensive tackles will turn their shoulders in their pass set attempting to overcompensate for the rusher's speed.

Both of these issues have to do with patience in pass protection. On Saturday night, La'el Collins remained patient, hitting his landmarks more consistently than he has all preseason. This allowed him to push Mack past the pocket, as he does on this rep.

dalvsoak 71 - Streamable

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Here we see Collins survive a strong initial strike from the defensive end by re-anchoring and sinking his hips. A key to Collins succeeding in this position switch will be to trust his coaching and technique. Despite losing at the point of attack initially here, he remained calm and trusted what he has been taught to do. A rep like this was great to see from La'el Collins.

Two of the three penalties called on Collins were for illegal hands to the face. I see two reasons for these flags. First off, I think he was tired. Early in the game he was pretty consistent with his hands, delivering a solid punch and hitting his spots. As the game wore on, however, those punches became more inconsistent. This could also be the reason his right hand seems to drop in his pass set at times.

Second, he just needs more work. With more reps and practice, I believe La'el will get this punch right. While he did have these problems with his punch, Collins' lower half looked better than it ever has last week.

Though Collins doesn't always look that smooth in his set, often appearing awkward with his feet and hands, he was able to get the job done against Mack rather consistently. And that is certainly encouraging.

Overall I think La'el Collins showed some good signs on Saturday night, and is certainly worthy of starting at right tackle this season. He will be tested early and often this year, as the Cowboys open up against the Giants and Broncos, each possessing impressive pass rushing units.


Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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4 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    I appreciate you shedding the proper light on this. Others have criticized his play in the game because of the penalties but it needs perspective and you gave that here. After one of the drives ended and he came to the sideline he was huffing and puffing. The great thing about this game is he faced one of the best in the business in Mack and didn’t give up a sack and aside from the penalties had a pretty good game.

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      Thanks for reading, Randy. I think with continued practice Collins will get it right. He’s too talented not to.

  • Russ_Te

    He is far more athletic than Free, just as powerful and when he gets his coaching down, Collins should bring an upgrade at RT. And I wasn’t convinced he was staying healthy at LG, so it’s better IMO in that regard also. Less punishment than inside.

    I saw Cooper swing to C at some point later in one of the PS games. I like that, but the fact he hasn’t beaten Green out for LG – comports to his struggles in the NFL. Supposed to have the talent, maybe not the motor or the smarts.

    Pretty sure Noah Brown is on the team as WR #6. They might have to try shopping Williams for a proven LG.

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      I agree that in a vacuum, Chaz Green is the better option at guard. His health is a serious concern, however, so that will probably sway the decision. Both Green and Cooper offer important position versatility as well.

Player News

Cowboys TE James Hanna Retiring

Jess Haynie

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James Hanna

In an unexpected bit of pre-draft news, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end James Hanna will be retiring after six seasons. He was drafted by the Cowboys in sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

The news of Hanna's retirement was first reported by ESPN's Todd Archer:

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys will place James Hanna on the reserve/retired list as the tight end could not get over a serious knee condition that troubled him for most of the last two seasons, according to sources. Hanna was not involved in the early part of the team's... https://t.co/45BAZ2avSC

Hanna, who turns 29 in July, missed all of 2016 with that knee issue and has had two surgeries. He was active for all 16 games last season but wasn't used much on offense, only having four catches. James did catch his first and only NFL touchdown in the team's Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Many thought Hanna would be a salary cap casualty this offseason, but a retirement has the same effect on the cap. The Cowboys now save $2.75 million off his scheduled $3.5 mullion cap hit in 2018.

James Hanna has stuck around this long thanks to being a proficient blocker and one of the standout players on special teams. Geoff Swaim, entering the final year of his rookie deal, will likely be trusted to fill those roles.

That said, tight end was already a targeted position for the Cowboys in next week's draft. Losing Hanna only give the team more incentive to add more talent.


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Player News

Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles
Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

Good news are coming to Dallas just in time. Less than a week from now, the NFL Draft will be held in the Cowboys' home, the AT&T Stadium. But the team may count with a defensive talent many in Cowboys Nation have tried to forget for a while now. Randy Gregory's comeback may just happen.

There's a lot of positions in the roster that need more help than the defensive end one, but after finding the "War Daddy" Jerry Jones has always wanted in DeMarcus Lawrence, finding a RDE this offseason would be a dream scenario.

Sure, there's a lot of young talent in this football team and they'll be coming off a season that put a chip on their shoulders. Even so, they'll need all the help they can get.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, some help could come in form of a very talented pass rusher. Randy Gregory is reportedly applying for reinstatement very soon and according to Mike Fisher and Bobby Belt, there are positive reports around the situation.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

Randy Gregory update: I'm told there is real momentum building. He is expected to apply for reinstatement in the week or two following next week's NFL Draft.

Cowboys Nation last saw the second round pick back in 2016, but his potential shouldn't be forgotten. Of course, the Cowboys shouldn't be considering Gregory for their 2018 plans, simply because there's risk of him not being available.

Even still, Dallas may get lucky at defensive end. After DeMarcus Lawrence has a breakout season in 2017, imagine the defensive line with Randy Gregory reinstated and rehabilitated to exploit his talent in the NFL.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

UPDATE: We're told Randy Gregory camp is ready to present to NFL the fact the #Cowboys DE has passed a large number of drug tests, hasn't failed one since July 2016. https://t.co/Hjgu2CqRtC

Despite some TMZ "reports", it looks like Gregory has been clean for a while. It sure should make Cowboys' fans happy and not only form a football perspective. A comeback would definitely be something amazing. He has a chance to write a unique story for himself.

Everyone likes second-chance stories. Gregory is a guy who had his share of problems. By coming back to the NFL, he's showing players and fans that change is possible. This wouldn't just be epic for Dallas Cowboys fans but NFL fans in general.

If Dallas is fortunate enough to see Gregory reinstated by the NFL, their fight in the trenches might see a big upgrade next season. Randy still has a lot to work on and he might not even be a starter right away, but the potential is right there.

The Cowboys could become a team capable of dominating the line of scrimmage both on offense and on defense.

Hopefully, Gregory is able to come back and shine as a professional player. He, and NFL fans deserve a story like that.

Tell me what you think about "Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Player News

BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving Reports to Voluntary Workouts

John Williams

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Could Any of These 3 Cowboys Disappoint Cowboys Nation in 2017?

2018 gets better by the day as the NFL takes another step closer to the regular season with the beginning of team voluntary workouts. The Dallas Cowboys have their first voluntary workout today at The Star.

Clarence Hill Jr. is reporting that Dallas Cowboys' restricted free agent Defensive Tackle David Irving has shown up for the first day of workouts.

Clarence Hill Jr on Twitter

Cowboys DT David Irving has yet to sign his rfa tender but he did show up for first day offseason program, per source, for those questioning his commitment

Irving who was second on the team in sacks for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 with seven, while only playing in 8 games, hasn't yet signed his restricted free agent tender.

Todd Archer from ESPN is reporting that David Irving expects to sign his RFA tender after today's workout guaranteeing him the second round tender figure of $2.91 million for 2018.

Todd Archer on Twitter

David Irving is expected to sign his restricted free agent tender today after the first workouts of the Cowboys' offseason program. Irving, who had seven sacks in eight games last season, will make $2.91 million. He is scheduled to become an... https://t.co/2EcPJ71OOe

As someone with as much production as Irving has had in the last couple of years, it's a bit surprising that teams around the NFL haven't jumped on that kind of interior presence. Teams looking for a player of Irving's caliber can still extend an offer sheet for the defensive tackle's services, but would have to give Dallas their 2018 second round pick.

The Dallas Cowboys would have the option of matching any offer sheet that David Irving signs. Perhaps they've indicated their intention to do so, given Irving's presence at the first day of practice.

It was quite a gamble, as many around Cowboys Nation believed that a team would quickly exchange a second round pick for Irving, but no one has offered him a contract to sign him away from the Cowboys.

David Irving has received criticism for his consistency after the 2016 season, but really found a stride in 2017 until a concussion derailed him toward the end of the season.

It's a great sign for the Dallas Cowboys that he's shown up ready to work for the 2018 season. David Irving is absolutely an ascending player and the sky is the limit for this defense with him as a part of it.


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