It hasn’t taken La’el Collins long to adjust to right tackle.
He played left tackle his final two seasons at LSU and left guard his first two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. But Collins has transitioned nicely to right tackle this season.
“He’s been consistent and he’s also improved,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Even if you look at him at the early part of training camp. His sets are stronger. His sets are cleaner. I think technically he’s playing better and better. He’s one of those guys who’s very physical and he plays with great passion. You never want to take that away from him. That’s a big part of who he is. That’s line one when you’re describing him.
“But you don’t want to let your strengths become your weaknesses. I think he’s done a really good job channeling that and still being a very technical player in his pass protection and his run blocking. He’s improved in that area. Combining those two things are really important. The best players are able to do that. They play with passion. They play with enthusiasm. They’re physical. But they’re also technically sound. I think he’s getting better and better at that.”
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The biggest hurdle for the left-handed Collins has been learning to play with his dominant hand as his inside hand instead of his outside hand.
“The biggest transition is doing the opposite with my body that I was doing on the left side,” Collins said. “So just focusing on getting better at technique and things like that.”
Collins has held his own for the majority of training camp, and it doesn’t appear as though he’ll be much of a step back, if at all, from the retired Doug Free. After all, there’s a reason the Cowboys handed Collins a two-year extension in camp even though he’s never played a regular-season game at right tackle.
Collins played only three games last season, going on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his right big toe. But Collins has been 100 percent healthy throughout the offseason and camp.
“I feel like I’m getting better every day,” Collins said. “I just want to go out there and give my all week in and week out.”