La’el Collins on contract: It’s a blessing man
When the Dallas Cowboys signed former New England Patriots tackle Cameron Fleming in free agency it was assumed that he would plug in at right tackle, allowing La’el Collins to move back inside to guard after starting at tackle in 2017.
It was thought to be the best way to improve the line and get the five best players on the field.
And that well could happen, especially since the team let last year's starting left guard Jonathan Cooper walk in free agency.
“I mean LC is a guy who has played inside for us at guard,” coach Jason Garrett said Sunday night at the Cowboys’ Taste of the NFL event in Frisco Sunday night. “He played tackle for us last year. We saw him as a guy who could do both coming out of school. You've heard me say this a lot: One of the things we want to do is always try to play our five best guys. A big part of that beyond just who are the best is try to put them in the best place for them individually and the best place for them collectively. His versatility is going to help us. We have signed a couple of linemen. We'll get them in the mix starting next Monday and see where they fit in and get to work."
It’s an option.
The Cowboys will begin sorting things out when they start the off-season program April 16.
But that is not Collins’ preference.
He wants to stay right tackle after a strong first season there in 2017. He played left guard his first two seasons in the league.
“I am going to be where I am,” Collins said. “I like playing tackle. I think that is where we will be. I’m here to help the football team. But I think we will be where we need to be.”
Collins said he learned a lot at right tackle in 2017 and hopes to build on his success in 2018. And to that end, he has given no thoughts to be moving back inside to guard.
“I played against a lot of great players in my first year at right tackle,” Collins said “Going against those guys last year was a big stepping stone for me going into next year. Right now I’m focused on playing tackle. That is where my mindset is.”
Fleming, a 25-year-old Texan, has spent the first four years of his NFL career with the New England Patriots. He has started 20 of 47 regular-season games in his career.
Fleming started the final five games of 2017 for the Patriots and then started in Super Bowl LII.
The Cowboys have been looking to upgrade their swing tackle position after disappointing turns by Chaz Green and Byron Bell in 2017.
Fleming would be the top swing tackle candidate but, could also be viewed as a starting candidate if the Cowboys opt to move Collins back inside.
There also remains a hole at guard. Fleming will get a look there as well, but his best position is tackle.
The Cowboys might also address the guard position in the upcoming draft.