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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.

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Report: Center Travis Frederick Undergoing Shoulder Evaluation

Kevin Brady

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Travis Frederick

After missing the team's walkthrough this morning, it is being reported that Dallas Cowboys starting center Travis Frederick is having his shoulder evaluated due to multiple stingers. According to reports, Frederick has been dealing with stingers all training camp, and the Cowboys are unsure what is wrong with his shoulder.

Frederick rarely misses any practice time at all, and has not missed a start since he entered the league in 2013. He's the catalyst of this offensive line, and will be greatly missed if his injury is severe enough to make him miss regular season game time.

David Helman on Twitter

Jason Garrett says Travis Frederick is getting his shoulder looked at in Los Angeles. He's been dealing with stingers. No update behind that #cowboyswire

Joe Looney has been tasked with replacing Frederick for the time being, taking first team center reps during today's walk through and practice.

Given how meaningless Saturday's game is, I'd expect Looney to start at center against the Bengals this weekend as well. Hopefully the evaluation reveals that Frederick's issues are not serious and he will be ready for game one, but consistent stingers will always make fans fear for the worst.



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Cowboys G Marcus Martin Needs Surgery; Impact on 53-Man Roster

Jess Haynie

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Marcus Martin
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Martin, the veteran guard Dallas signed as a free agent last March, suffered a potential season-ending injury in the team's preseason opener last Thursday night. Just how long he'll be out is still be determined, but it still should impact the Cowboys' final 53-man roster this season.

Martin tore ligaments in his right big toe against the 49ers. However, as of yesterday, it was not decided if he would pursue surgery.

Brandon George on Twitter

The Cowboys don't expect backup OG Marcus Martin to play this season after he tore ligaments in his big toe in the preseason opener, but he's seeking a 2nd opinion before deciding whether to have surgery. Martin signed a 1-year deal with Dallas as a free agent this offseason.

A former third-round pick in 2014, the 24-year-old was brought in as a potential reserve at both guard at center. He was still in competition with Joe Looney and others for a roster spot, though, and his minimal one-year contract suggested nothing was guaranteed.

Even if Martin doesn't have surgery, he is almost sure to miss the start of the season. Dallas would likely place him on injured reserve, but still have the option to recall him after Week 8.

Marcus' absence all but guarantees that Looney will return in 2018. This will be his third year in the system and his ability to play center is critical.

In my 53-man roster projection last week, I had both Looney and Martin making the team. So if I had that right, that means a spot has opened up for probably fifth-year veteran Kadeem Edwards, who was playing with the second unit in the preseason opener.

The notorious Chaz Green, who has played guard at times, could also be the beneficiary of the open roster spot.

Damien Mama, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who Dallas added this offseason, is the only other guard currently on the roster. We should get to see more of him as the preseason continues.

Marcus Martin's availability, or lack thereof, and how it ultimately impacts the roster will be determined in the coming weeks.



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LB Jaylon Smith 100% Healthy Entering 2018 Season

Brian Martin

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#DALvsIND: 5 Cowboys Storylines To Watch In Preseason Week 2 1

If you need any more reason to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys upcoming 2018 season, then look no further than their 2016 second-round draft pick, Jaylon Smith. His comeback story from the devastating knee injury he sustained in his last collegiate game at Notre Dame has been well-documented, but recent news suggests his journey has finally come full circle.

Once considered a top-five pick, Smith saw his draft stock plummet due to concerns he may never be able to step foot on the field ever again. Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys were willing to gamble he would be able to make a full recovery and once again become the player he was with the Fighting Irish.

The long and grueling rehab process couldn't have been easy to endure. Jaylon Smith was forced to pretty much redshirt his rookie season and played on a pitch count Year 2 while he continued to rehab, waiting for nerve regeneration that may never fully heal.

Luckily for him, he joined a team with a really good support system both on and off the field. A support system that just so happened to include his brother, Running Back Rod Smith. It's that support system that could have made a huge difference in his approach to rehab. An approach that may have finally paid off.

Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LBs Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith

All reports indicate Jaylon Smith is 100% healthy once again, or as close to it as possible. Rod Smith, his brother, said Jaylon is back to being as good as he was at Notre Dame. Jaylon however said he is even better than he was. But, they are not the only ones weighing in on Smith's health.

Scouting Director Will McClay went on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio Monday morning and declared LB Jaylon 100 percent healthy from the injury he suffered in college that kept him out his rookie season in 2016 and had him on a pitch count in 2017.

Will McClay isn't the only one that has noticed a difference in Jaylon Smith. Head Coach Jason Garrett has said Smith has grown leaps and bounds from last year and are treating him like a player with no limitations.

"Again, he worked hard in his rehab. Coming into this off-season he was able to take that brace off. I think that's freed him up a little bit," Garrett said.

"And he just looks much more natural. So again, you'll have to ask him that very question, but from our point of view, he looks like he's moving around really well, changing direction really well, making a lot of plays. I think he's gaining more confidence with each day. We really don't have a plan for him right now. He's full-go and ready to practice every day with no limitation."

All of these accounts certainly make it sound like Jaylon Smith's arrow is trending upwards and that he is as healthy as he has been since joining the Dallas Cowboys.

Luckily, we don't have long to see him in action. I don't know about you, but Thursday night when the Cowboys take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Week 1 of the NFL Preseason can't get here soon enough.

Are you excited to see a 100% healthy Jaylon Smith this season?



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