Right tackle La'el Collins is active once again after a five-game suspension, but he may not be taking the field as a starter this Sunday.
Terence Steele, who filled in for Collins during his absence, will be the starting right tackle versus the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. This comes as a surprise to many fans, as even though Steele has been a welcome surprise this season, the consensus has always been that Collins would return to the starting lineup.
When asked about the change, Steele said “Whatever helps the team succeed is what I want.”
Cowboys RT Terence Steele said he learned early this week he would remain the starter despite La'el Collins' return from suspension. Steele had no expectations. “Whatever helps the team succeed is what I want.” pic.twitter.com/jDRCkIxLFp
This is no cause for Collins to sound the alarm, though. Head Coach Mike McCarthy noted that he would practice at both right tackle and left guard with the reserves while Steele was with the first team. Collins has played left guard both in his college and NFL career, so it's not a completely new change for the six-year veteran.
In his 2015 rookie season, Collins started 11 games at left guard. With Steele's impressive play this season, the Cowboys may be paving a path for Collins to take Connor Williams' job as left guard.
As for Collins losing his right tackle job of five seasons, Coach McCarthy mentioned maintaining “continuity,” and he may have a point. The Cowboys have won five games in a row, and with a hobbled Dak Prescott, it's imperative the offensive line is on the same page this week. McCarthy acknowledged Steele's performance after announcing the change.
“You've clearly got to recognize how well Terence has been playing,” he said.
In 365 snaps this season, Steele has only three penalties and zero sacks allowed. Momentum is important, and it seems that's what the Cowboys are focused on.
Nevertheless, Collins' talent is undeniable, and McCarthy and crew are unlikely to leave him on the bench for long. Whether he returns to right tackle or moves to left guard, the Cowboys offensive line will be bolstered. For Collins, it's likely not a matter of if he'll start again, but a matter of when.