La'el Collins spending time at guard for Cowboys after return from suspension

La’el Collins’ return from suspension includes additional practice work — and a chance to appear in a different position.

Terence Steele took over at right tackle for Collins during his absence and appears set to retain his starting job even with Collins back in the fold. Collins could, however, end up playing guard if needed during the Dallas Cowboys’ Sunday night contest against the Minnesota Vikings.

“We’re going to push him in there,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Collins, via the team’s official site. “He looks good. He moved well Monday. LC has position flex.

“We’re going to start the week with Terence at right tackle, but LC gives us some great competition in there. So we’re going to try to work him as much as possible this week.”

Collins was drafted as a tackle out of LSU but spent his first two NFL seasons playing left guard because Dallas needed him there more than right tackle. He shifted to the right side following the retirement of Doug Free, manning the spot for almost the entirety of 2017-2019 before missing all of 2020 due to injury.

That same injury allowed Steele to see valuable in-game reps and gain experience that has clearly carried over in his second professional season.

“You clearly have to recognize how well Terence played. We all recognize that,” McCarthy said. “Continuity on the offensive line is something that you’re always striving to sustain over the course of the year. The intricacies of what goes on there up front, the reps that they play together is crucial. We want to continue to grow that, but also I think this gives us the most competitive, the most depth I know that I’ve had in my time here in the offensive line room.”

With Steele riding positive momentum, Collins’ return will provide the Cowboys a luxury they can choose to utilize at guard or tackle. They don’t necessarily need to play Collins, but they certainly can — provided Collins picks up where he left off in 2016 at guard.

“Well, we’ll find out,” McCarthy said. “That’s all part of it. I think position flex is always important. We’ll see how it goes. I look forward to seeing him back out there.”

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