FRISCO, Texas – La'el Collins is back from his five-game NFL suspension.
Terence Steele showed tremendous improvement in five starts in Collins' place.
All that makes for "a great situation" at right tackle moving forward, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes.
The players are off this week, which means Collins won't get back into practice until next week when the Cowboys (5-1) begin preparing for their Oct. 31 road game at Minnesota.
"La'el's been here. He looks good, the workouts and so forth," McCarthy said. "We'll be excited to get him back into the full mix after the bye week."
Collins signed a five-year, $50 million extension prior to the 2019 season, and he's been the starter at right tackle when healthy. But he missed the entire 2020 season with a hip injury that required surgery, and he had limited reps late in training camp due to a neck stinger.
Collins was able to start Week 1 against the Bucs. Then came the five-game suspension. Steele, a second-year veteran out of Texas Tech, has held it down on the right side.
The Cowboys are the No. 1 offense at 460.8 yards per game and 34.2 points per game. They're second in rushing, averaging 164.3 yards, and quarterback Dak Prescott is an early-season MVP candidate with 16 touchdowns to only four interceptions.
McCarthy was asked if it's a no-brainer that Collins steps back in as the starter.
"That's really the timing of the bye week. These are the kind of conversations we'll have," McCarthy said. "We got a full slate of self-scout projects that we're going to do (Tuesday). We're going to do across-the-hall preparation for when the players come back. … We'll have a personnel meeting probably (Tuesday) and we'll have those types of conversations."
Asked to weigh in on the topic Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, Jones said there's no "golden rule" about an incumbent starter retaining his position on the depth chart after an absence, though typically that's how the club operates in most situations.
"But he is an outstanding football player, recognized all over the NFL, and anytime you can help especially your offensive line, you've got to use it," Jones said. "On the other hand, you couldn't have drawn up somebody that took advantage and just before your eyes get better and better than Steele. So we've got a great situation there.
"…That's the way that we do it normally is the incumbent does have his position. Now, that's not a golden rule at all. But I would see before we're through having both of them out there quite a bit every game."