DALLAS — As the Dallas Cowboys enter the final five games of the regular season, the offensive line still has some question marks.
The biggest position that needs an answer is at right tackle. With La'el Collins recovering from a hip injury that nixed his entire 2020 season, undrafted free agent Terence Steele developed over 14 games in his rookie year as a solid starter at right tackle.
Collins started in Week 1, but served a five-game suspension that allowed Steele to continue playing right tackle through Week 8. Left tackle Tyron Smith was injured from Weeks 9-11, which allowed for Steele to still play while Collins regained his starting job on the right side. In Week 13, Steele was on the COVID-19 reserve list, and the Cowboys didn't have to deal with the conundrum.
Steele is expected to come out of COVID-19 protocol and be available for the initial Washington encounter on Sunday at FedEx Field. Dallas will have to answer who plays right tackle.
Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones believes both tackles will see playing time against their NFC East rivals.
"You’ve got an improved Collins, you got a Steele that we know and are very confident he can play at right tackle — just play well there," Jones told "Shan & RJ" on 105.3 "The Fan" Tuesday. "And, so, in doing so, we will use the fact that we got Collins at his best this year. We got Steele. We’ll use that as one of the, or a way, to help our running game. We will do that. What that lets us do relative to any other formations that we use, we’ll have a big guy in that you would normally have a tight end. That will help us out.”
When pressed about who would start at right tackle, Jones said the team doesn't "have to look at that."
Said Jones: "Collins and Steele both are the same player whether they’re the first one out there or not.”
Thanksgiving against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 12 was the only time Collins and Steele have both been active since the Cowboys have had all five starters along the offensive line. Steele started the game and played 71 offensive snaps, although Collins saw three snaps on offense.
The Cowboys were able to protect quarterback Dak Prescott with one sack taken in Week 13's 27-17 win at the New Orleans Saints. The running game has been problematic, even with the Cowboys producing 146 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in their last game.
Dallas is hopeful that they can find the best five-man combination to give them the push for a deep playoff run.
Who do you think should be installed as the starter at right tackle for the Cowboys? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.