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How La’el Collins’ Suspension Will Impact the Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys starting right tackle La’el Collins has been suspended 5 games without pay for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, per Adam Schefter. 

The Cowboys, who struggled to run the ball with any success in the season opener, posted just 60 yards of rushing in a 31-29 loss. Ezekiel Elliott in particular had a very rough night rushing for 33 yards on 11 attempts. 

Of course, there was a multitude of things to consider. The Cowboys were facing one of the most formidable defensive lines in the league with their best lineman in Zack Martin absent due to Covid-19 protocols. 

Thankfully for the Cowboys, Martin will return in time for the Cowboys Week 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. 

La’el Collins, on the other hand, will not be returning to action until Week 7 when the Cowboys matchup against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S Bank Stadium. He is eligible to return to the Cowboys’ active roster after the Cowboys Week 6 game against the New England Patriots. 

This is not only a sizeable blow to the Cowboys’ rushing attack but their passing scheme as well. Backups Terence Steele and Ty Nsekhe will share time at the right tackle position in place of Collins for the duration of his suspension. 

As for the Cowboys’ defensive matchups in Collins’ absence, they may have lucked out. Here’s how their following five matchups ranked in rushing defense and pass rush defense respectively this past season: 

  • Los Angeles Chargers: 18th and 12th 
  • Philadelphia Eagles: 23rd and 2nd 
  • Carolina Panthers:  20th and 17th 
  • New York Giants: 10th and 19th 
  • New England Patriots: 26th and 23rd 

Outside of the pass rush of the Eagles and Chargers, the Cowboys may not face a great deal of adversity running the ball and protecting Dak Prescott in the pocket. 

As for Ezekiel Elliott, there is going to need to be an improvement from his Week 1 performance. Relying on Dak Prescott to throw the ball 50+ times a game is not a consistent formula for success. Elliott simply has to do more. 

If the Cowboys can find a way to keep Elliott involved in the offensive scheme ahead of the following favorable matchups, La’el Collins’ absence may not be as drastic as expected.

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