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What Maliek Collins’ Foot Injury Means for Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line

Sean Martin

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What Maliek Collins' Foot Injury Means for Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line 1

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.

Maliek Collins, Redskins

Dallas Cowboys DT Maliek Collins (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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.

What Maliek Collins' Foot Injury Means for Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line

Dallas Cowboys DT Datone Jones

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.

Brian Price

Dallas Cowboys DT Brian Price

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.

Cowboys' Rookies To Begin Training Camp Wednesday At The Star

Dallas Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli, DE Taco Charlton (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Tell us what you think about "What Maliek Collins’ Foot Injury Means for Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, 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 wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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3 Comments
  • Hector Espindola

    Seems 1T answer would come from players already in the roster and after the battle at camp of the likes of DeQuinton, Ash, Price or Ross.

  • Pete186

    They need to sign HANKINS, forget about McClain.

  • EverybodyTalks

    DQ is a BEAST. Hope he shines in camp. There is opportunity for him, with this injury, to make the roster.

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

Sean Martin

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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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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

Sean Martin

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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

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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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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