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With Terence Steele stepping up, Cowboys benefiting from depth at tackle

After a season ravaged by injury along the offensive line, the Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed improved depth so far in 2021

DALLAS — Technically, the Dallas Cowboys still have a problem at right tackle with their starter out and a backup having to take his place.

However, unlike 2020, the problem isn't concerning how the backup is playing, but who will continue to start? La'el Collins, who has logged 48 starts for Dallas at right tackle since joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2015, is finishing the final game of a five-game suspension. In his absence, Terence Steele, who started 14 games at right tackle in 2020 as Collins was out with a hip injury, has taken ownership of the position.

Unlike last year, when Dallas struggled to a 6-10 finish with offensive line play being one of the primary reasons, the Cowboys have had great cohesion among the men up front, even from their backups.

On "Shan & RJ" on 105.3 "The Fan" [KRLD-FM], Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked if Steele was making an argument for Dallas to ride the hot hand and leave the former Texas Tech product at right tackle, even when Collins inevitably makes his return in Week 7.

"Boy, has he," Jones said. "He’s just played outstanding. Boy, he has shown me he has a long-term future in this game and this game with the Cowboys. So, he’s played outstanding relatively speaking."

Jones clarified that just because Steele has excelled in the absence of Collins, who was hit with a five-game suspension on Sept. 10 for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, doesn't mean that the seven-year pro's role has diminished.

"Now, that doesn’t mean that La’el Collins is any less of a player," said Jones. "La’el Collins is a significant member of the team. And, so, this just gives us what you hope for: young player ascending and gives us depth and gives us, if you will, an alternative. All of that is there.”

Last week, Collins attempted to get a federal judge to impose a temporary restraining order against the NFL's suspension, which possibly could have had him ready for Week 5 against the New York Giants. Dallas prevailed 44-20 without him.

With regards to Collins' availability for Week 6 against the New England Patriots, Jones considered Collins out once more.

Said Jones: "I think what it is is, for me, he’s out for this game. I frankly do not have anything that’s worth noting that would indicate otherwise that he won’t be out for this game and be back with us for the rest of the year.”

Do you think Collins should regain his starting job or should Steele keep playing? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.