All eyes are on the return of Dak Prescott to OTAs, and rightfully so, but the Dallas Cowboys are enjoying more good news as they slowly begin working their way to mandatory minicamp and, eventually, training camp. For along with the return of Prescott comes the return of starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’El Collins, both of whom missed most of the 2020 season with injury — Collins actually missing the entirety of it. As CBS Sports reported in February, both were on track to be healthy by the time offseason conditioning began, and head coach Mike McCarthy has now confirmed that’s exactly the case.
Speaking for the second day of OTAs, McCarthy was asked about Smith and Collins, who both did work off to the side on Tuesday.
“They both look in great shape,” he said. “They both have been here the whole time through phases one, two and three. They’re where they need to be.”
Much like the team’s approach to working Prescott back into the mix following his season-ending injury, don’t expect the Cowboys to unnecessarily throw their most valued offensive linemen not named Zack Martin (who is also healthy now) into the fire in May with so much at stake in September.
“There’s a level of caution also with them here this week and the next two weeks,” McCarthy added. “We’ll see them in the full-go manner coming training camp. But they both look great.”
It’s key to note the absence of any braces, and the impressive physical condition of both Smith and Collins.
And so it goes, they’ll return to no limitations in July along with Prescott, presumably giving the Cowboys a full slate of cornerstone players as they attempt to bounce back from a disappointing 6-10 finish that was largely fueled by a ravenous injury bug. Being forced to combine a constantly rotating O-line — filled mostly with backups and a rookie in Tyler Biadasz flanking Martin — with a carousel of [poor] quarterback play was a recipe for disaster the Cowboys simply couldn’t avoid in 2020.
They’ve made the move to add insurance at backup swing tackle in signing veteran Ty Nsekhe to a one-year deal, added rookies Josh Ball, Matt Farniok and Braylon Jones to the mix and are expecting the progress on IPP player Isaac Alarcon to pay off in his first year of NFL eligibility. The success of the offensive front and subsequently the entire offense, however, will depend upon the availability of Smith and Collins, and the Cowboys are excited to have them back on the edges to help Prescott return to his ironman ways in 2021.
Given how brutally challenging their schedule is and all that’s on the line, it’s truly all hands on deck in Dallas.