Right tackle La'el Collins proved his physical and mental toughness and impressed the Dallas Cowboys with a bulging disc in the 38-14 victory against the Washington Redskins last week after not practicing all week.
Collins is not expected to practice Wednesday and could be held of practice again this week. But he expects to play against the New York Giants Sunday.
Last week was the first time Collins played in a game after not practicing.
“It’s something I’ve been dealing with, a little injury,” Collins said. “Sometimes it has to go that way. Sometimes you can’t get out there physically during the week but you know you have to be ready to go for the game.
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“I was trying to let everything calm down and just go out there and see how it feels warming up. It felt good warming up early on. As the game was going on, kind of sitting around kind of bothered me a little bit. But other than that, I just took it one series at a time.”
Collins said he has been dealing with the back injury for about three weeks and it still bothers him.
He said the team is trying to manage it as best as possible and surgery is not an option right now.
“I’ve been through a lot of tough things and adversity,” Collins said. “I know I’m a mentally tough guy, a physically tough guy so I knew as long as I was feeling good enough to go I was going to go out there and give everything I had. That was my mindset going into it.”
Collins impressed the Cowboys because he more than neutralized Redskins defensive end Ryan Kerrigan in the game.
“I thought he did a really good job all week long,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Obviously, he didn’t practice in each of the days, but he was getting his mind right and his emotions right to play. He was able to walk-through the day before and walk-through the day of the game. He warmed up well and we gave him a chance to play. He played well. He played tough. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but he played the game the right way. He fought through it and he gave us a big lift up front.”
Collins is in his first year at right tackle after spending the first two years of his career at guard and then missing much of last year with a foot injury.
He said improved his technique all season and injury forced him to be more patient and pay more attention to his technique against the Redskins.
“Absolutely, more patience. As I was telling one of my buddies, dealing with an injury kind of makes you more patient because you try to be less aggressive,” Collins said. “When you’re feeling good, you tend to be a little more aggressive. Sometimes it throws you off a little bit. That’s something that comes with the game. If you get injured you have to slow it down a little bit and have a little bit more patience.”
Garrett said Collins continues to validate what they thought of him as a player and a teammate.
“I think we had a good feel for what he was all about when we signed him coming out of school and that was almost Line 1 for him, just the way he plays, the physical nature, how much he loves it,” Garrett said. “He’s demonstrated that. He’s matured a lot as a player. Technically, he’s getting better. But it was good to see him out there. I think he continues to gain respect from his teammates with his toughness and how he plays.”