(Editor’s Note: Over the next month, the team at DallasCowboys.com will be looking to answer the 20 biggest questions the team faces leading up to 2021. Today we’ll be debating the impact of Tyron Smith tackling. and La’el Collins returning to the offensive line.)
FRISCO, Texas – Let’s be clear: Getting Dak back into good health is a big deal.
Prescott’s return to the caucus as a starting quarterback is arguably the biggest addition the Cowboys could have made this offseason. But to realize their full attacking potential, the Cowboys need a good season from left tackle Tyron Smith and right tackle La’el Collins.
Both players are on track to be ready for the start of the season, but how will the rest of 2021 go? Our staff debate writers.
4) Can offensive tackles hold up?
Spanish Mickey: They had better. And why not? Tyron Smith and La’el Collins fixed what was causing them pain last year. First Collins, dealing with hip problems. Finally placed on the injured list on September 7 of last year after spending most of the offseason trying to readjust his problems. Then surgery. But tell you what, while he didn’t participate in any of the OTA and minicamp practices, he looked 100% ready after watching his rehab. Come on, he’ll only be 28 during training camp, roughly the peak age for an offensive lineman, and let’s remember that after a stellar 2019 straight tackle season, Collins was on the verge of breaking. ‘have a Pro Bowl season in 2020 before the hip gives way. And as for Smith, while this will be his 11th season in the NFL, he’s only 30, still in his prime. And if we take him at his word, the late-season neck surgery he underwent last year not only relieved the severe pain in his neck, but also some of the nagging back problems he had. The Cowboys desperately need these two top tackles.
David Helman: I’ve been optimistic about these guys since they first got injured, so I’m not about to back down after having the chance to see them work during OTAs. Tyron Smith and La’el Collins both seem like healthy, motivated guys. It’s pretty obvious they’ve crushed this offseason, and I think it’s going to pay off. Of course, you can’t completely ignore the injury issues for two veterans playing such a physical position. But I think Smith and Collins are both going to play 13 or more games this year, and that’s going to make all the difference for this team.
Jonny Auping: I couldn’t claim to confidently make a medical prediction on Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. Having said that, I’m not sure I understand the logic behind the optimism. They are both coming out of major injuries. I’m sure their surgeries fixed the issues, and the Cowboys have a great medical staff, but when you’re playing an offensive tackle in the NFL, the reality is you risk a potential injury every time you step on the pitch, and I think it’s safe to say that serious hip and neck injuries only increase that possibility. I’ve heard people say that La’el and Tyron are “as tough as they come” but that’s an archaic outlook for me. It’s not about tenacity, and you don’t want players to take real injuries. I certainly don’t think they’re going to miss 20 combined games or anything. But if one of them misses 2-5 games, that could be enough to cripple an explosive attack. I obviously hope for 17 games from them.