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Has La’el Collins Officially Emerged as Starting Cowboys RT?

Sean Martin



La'el Collins

The Dallas Cowboys offense is expected to be a force once again in 2017 with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and of course their engine up front in the offensive line. However, some tweaks to this engine over the offseason in efforts to replace retired RT Doug Free have drawn plenty of national attention. Once expected to be Chaz Green's job on paper - until competition or injury forced a change - the Cowboys are now seemingly moving forward further with La'el Collins switching from LG to the RT spot.

Collins, who came to Dallas as yet another offensive lineman with "first round talent", (only as a UDFA due to some unfortunate circumstances) fit in perfectly as a rookie in 2015 - a mauling guard playing next to Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.

Brandon George on Twitter

La'el Collins was at 1st-team RT in practice. Said all reps he's taking in practices are at RT. None at OG. Said that will be same in camp.

The upside La'el Collins showed at this left guard spot had most of Cowboys Nation weary about moving him to a new position, especially after a 2016 season that saw a healthy Chaz Green make four starts in place of the NFL's best left tackle - filling in admirably.

Whether or not the Cowboys offensive line would miss a beat with Collins staying at a proven position and Green seamlessly replacing Free may not be the question the Cowboys considered when lining up La'el for this move, but rather how they can be prepared for the likely event of a Green injury.

Sure, there is the free agent addition of Byron Bell along with Emmett Cleary and even UDFA Dan Skipper, but expecting any of these tackles to perform as well as Green has in a limited sample would be a massive stretch.

The depth the Cowboys have at guard, should Collins perform as a RT, is considerably more intriguing with another former first round selection in Jonathan Cooper. Cooper was re-signed for 2017 to give Dallas the option of finally tapping into his potential should they need to, as he never lived up to his draft stock in Arizona.

Playing for a contending team at arguably the easiest position in the league right now - LG for the Dallas Cowboys - could have amazing results for Cooper, and go a very long way in getting the Cowboys' five best OL on the field this season.

Brandon George on Twitter

Emmett Cleary was at first-team left guard in practice today for Cowboys. Joe Looney and Chaz Green weren't practicing today.

Cleary has already shown the Cowboys some of his ability at LT, now also being worked at the LG spot. Joe Looney presumably will too when he is healthy, giving the Cowboys plenty of bodies to now potentially replace both La'el Collins and Doug Free's positions moving forward.

The jump from guard to tackle will not be easy for Collins, but after making so many flashes in his first year only to have 2016 taken away from him with a foot injury (thank you Ron Leary) there should be plenty of excitement to simply see him get back to work and find a way to help the rich get richer along the offensive line.

Conversely, La'el Collins could "leave" the left guard spot with a lot of growth stunted at what may be the LSU product's best position.

What we know for certain is that La'el is all-in on helping the team that gave him a shot in professional football however he can - a team now preparing to line up with first round talents from left to right this season. Look out.

Tell us what you think about "Has La’el Collins Officially Emerged as Starting Cowboys RT?" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin



Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin



Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie



Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.

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