Rams-Cowboys preview: Dallas places 2 starters on IR ahead of Week 1
The Dallas Cowboys may be known for a few things that lead into the 2020 season, but their offensive line and linebacker corps are made up of exceptional starters. The Cowboys’ new head coach, Mike McCarthy, will be a little understaffed in these units to kick off the season with the current rules.
The Los Angeles Rams will host the Cowboys in Six Days and debut at SoFi Stadium on Sunday evening at 5:20 pm.
Sean Lee, 34, has had a long career and has remained productive. He played in all 16 games last season and finished with 86 tackles, a sack and an interception. Lee was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2016, and was also recognized as an All-Pro of the first team last year. Lee surprisingly led the 2013 NFL in interception return yards, then ripped up his ACL and missed all of 2014.
Lee has missed at least five games five times in his 10-year career.
La’El Collins started eleven games as a rookie on the left and missed all but three games in the second year. He has started 47 out of 48 possible games in real duels in the last three seasons, and last season was labeled “Elite” by the SB Nation Cowboys blog on the back of his 86.4 class by PFF.
At this point, it appears that Collins could be replaced by Cam Erving, the disappointing former first-round player for the Cleveland Browns who has spent the past three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. Erving started eight games for the Super Bowl champions last season, but the 28-year-old didn’t play well enough to spark much interest in the free agent market. In May, he signed a one-year contract with Dallas.
Meanwhile, alongside left guard Connor Williams and center Joe Looney, who is taking on retired all-pro Travis Frederick, the Cowboys still have all-pros Tyron Smith and Zack Martin banned from the offensive.
Defensively, Dallas is handing back star linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, but there aren’t any strong options to replace Lee. The Cowboys Depth at Linebacker currently includes Luke Gifford, Joe Thomas, and Justin March, all of whom are former freelance agents with little experience. Thomas started seven games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016 and two games with Dallas last season. In March 2016, five games started for the Chiefs.
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who has spent the past four seasons as a linebacker coach and hasn’t been a DC with the Atlanta Falcons since 2014, may just be changing staff and may already have a high dose of nickel planned.