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Terence Steele expected to replace La’el Collins at RT vs. Chargers, says Jerry Jones

Collins’ representatives are continuing to fight the suspension

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones eliminated any suspense about who would start at right tackle Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers by announcing Terence Steele will get the spot.

The Cowboys lost starting right tackle La’el Collins for five games because of a suspension for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Collins participated in the Week 1 loss at Tampa Bay before his suspension was announced Friday, leaving the Cowboys with decisions to make.

Ty Nsekhe, a swing tackle and eight-year veteran who has started 17 career games and was picked up in free agency this past offseason, was a consideration at right tackle. But the team elected to go with Steele, who started 14 games at right tackle as a rookie in 2020.

“The plan is to go with Steele, and he’ll do a good job,” Jones said Tuesday morning on 105.3 “The Fan” KRLD-FM. “He’s a young guy that we’re proud of. He really had a great rookie year last year relatively speaking, and he’ll do a good job out there, and we’ll give him lots of help.”

Jones dismissed the notion of moving right guard Zack Martin to right tackle because the team didn’t want to change two positions. Martin, an All-Pro guard, missed the season opener because of a positive COVID-19 test. Martin, who was cleared Monday from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, started eight games alongside Steele on the right side of the line last season.

It’s that chemistry the Cowboys want to build on for the foreseeable future.

“Our offense is best served with him at right guard, and we’ve got a good alternative [in backup Connor McGovern],” Jones said. “[Martin] will be very helpful to the fact Steele will basically be out there in the game. And he’ll be helpful to him, and he will really help out that situation.”

More clarity in La’el Collins’ situation: Collins began serving his five-game suspension Monday and isn’t eligible to return until Oct. 18. A source said Collins did not fail a drug test and that his representatives are continuing to fight the suspension despite losing an appeal to an arbitrator.

Collins’ representatives might ask for a hearing with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for help in the matter.

On the surface, it seems Collins missed drug tests or counseling sessions which constitutes failures when a player is enrolled in the NFL’s drug program.

“It’s a very, very convoluted situation,” Jerry Jones said on The Fan. “But [the NFL drug] policy, as it stands right now, has a lot of emphasis on the, if you will, the process of meeting with consultants of consulting, relative to whatever your issue is and if that’s not adhered to in a pretty formal way, then you can get into some heavy areas there regarding your eligibility to play.”

Briefly: The Cowboys completed the signings of WR Robert Foster and K Lirim Hajrullahu to the practice squad. … Jones said K Greg Zuerlein was dealing with a quad injury toward the end of training camp and the signing of Hajrullahu is insurance in case something happens. … The Cowboys protected practice squad players FB Nick Ralston, WR Brandon Smith, TE Jeremy Sprinkle and Hajrullahu from getting signed by another team.

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Calvin Watkins. This is my 10th year covering the Dallas Cowboys. This is special for me because I've never reached the 10th year in anything, other than living. So I guess that's something to be proud of.

calvin.watkins@dallasnews.com @calvinwatkins
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