For the second time in three seasons, Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins will miss the majority of the offseason program with a broken foot. Before recording an impressive five sacks as a rookie in 2016, Collins dealt with a broken right foot. Playing with lingering injuries while going through a position change last season, Collins now becomes something of an unknown commodity for the Cowboys preparing for 2018.
Even before this latest setback for Collins, we know the Cowboys had interest in upgrading the 1T position with former DT Terrell McClain. Released after the draft by the Washington Redskins, McClain opted to join the Atlanta Falcons following his visit with the Cowboys.
Whether or not this was an early sign that Maliek Collins was preparing to line up at 3T for Rod Marinelli's defense is hard to tell. The Cowboys Defensive Coordinator remains optimistic for a player that never has missed a regular season game in two years.
Collins' best play with the Cowboys has come as a true interior pass rusher, which is where the depth the Cowboys seem to have this year will truly have its chance to shine.
The Cowboys did not draft a defensive tackle, but did acquire one during the draft by trading for Oakland's Jihad Ward. A second round pick of the Raiders in 2016, Ward is another player the Cowboys will be looking to keep healthy if Marinelli is to get the most out of him - hindered by frequent lower body injuries.
Datone Jones was signed by the Cowboys in week 13 of last season, seeing increased action at the 3T position as the season came to an end. Jones recorded a week 17 sack in Philadelphia for the Cowboys - a lasting impression that the veteran would stick on his fifth team since 2015. Now, he can expect plenty of pass rush reps all through training camp in Dallas.
Perhaps a forgotten about piece of the Cowboys defensive line, Datone Jones may benefit the most from Maliek Collins' absence. The same could also be said about David Irving, who can earn an even larger role defensively should he prove a consistent force at DT this summer.
Taco Charlton and veteran Tyrone Crawford are defensive ends with experience on the interior for the Cowboys. Even with solid depth at DE, both players should have their roster spots at this position secured, and I believe the Cowboys would be reluctant to line either up as a "starting" DT.
The only Cowboys defensive tackle to hit the field so far this offseason would be DeQuinton Osborne, a UDFA signing that recorded six sacks in his final season at Oklahoma State.
Regardless of where Maliek Collins lines up following his rehab, there is another starting DT spot up for grabs in Dallas. Losing out on Terrell McClain, the Cowboys appear set to move forward with the likes of Richard Ash and Brian Price holding up the middle on defense.
If you're sensing a theme here, it is that injury concerns are holding back the true potential of the Cowboys defensive line. A promising nose tackle since signing with the Cowboys just before the 2017 season, Brian Price appeared in only eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Price returns to the Cowboys this season on a team-friendly two-year deal.
Daniel Ross also remains on the Cowboys roster for 2018, hoping to become their latest steal off the Chiefs practice squad to contribute at DT. Following the path of David Irving, Ross bounced around with the Texans and Lions as a UDFA in 2017. Kansas City was Ross' last stop before signing with the Cowboys, finally seeing playing time in three regular season games.
This portion of the offseason is all about understanding what the Dallas Cowboys have "on paper". With their rookie class being the exception, the Cowboys roster exists only on paper for a few more weeks until OTAs.
Fielding one of their deepest defensive lines in years, the competition for all four starting spots will begin as soon as the pads come on.
Maliek Collins will be welcomed back by the Cowboys as soon as he's ready to play again, and monitoring what this defensive line looks like without him will be very fun this summer.
REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker and Captain Sean Lee will likely miss time with a hamstring injury suffered during the team's Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Lee, who'd hurt his other hamstring in Week 2 against the Giants, had to leave yesterday's game with a new injury to the alternate leg. His status was reported on today by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Hamstring issues also bothered Sean Lee last year. He missed five games in 2017.
As Rapoport mentioned, the presence of rookie Leighton Vander Esch now takes far greater importance. The 2018 first-round pick looked good yesterday in relief of Sean, registering 11 tackles.
Another season of injury problems could put Lee's future with the Cowboys in jeopardy. In fact, it may only cement what was already a strong possibility.
Sean can be released next season for about $7 million in salary cap savings, and his replacement is already on the roster.
Lee is still a top NFL linebacker when healthy. But "when healthy" has been said far too often, and the Cowboys used their first-round pick this year to prepare for such a problem.
We'll see how long the 32-year-old has to sit out, and what impact that has on his career going forward.
Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.
Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.
Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.
This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.
Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J
A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.
Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.
The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.
Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.
Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.
The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension
An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.
David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.
Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw
However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.
In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.
The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.
It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.
We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
Cowboys Reunion with WR Brice Butler Makes No Sense
Game Notes1 week ago
Cowboys Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch May Be New Starter at SAM
Player News1 week ago
Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler
Game Notes1 week ago
Sean’s Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants
Game Notes1 week ago
3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Win over the New York Giants
Player News2 weeks ago
Cowboys Sign G Xavier Su’a-Filo; Impact on Connor Williams?
Player News1 week ago
Is Dak Prescott’s Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Jason Garrett & Scott Linehan: Who Has the Hotter Seat?