OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys already had eyes on giving La'el Collins some first-team snaps – but, for the time being, at least, they might not have a choice.
There has yet to be an official update on Zack Martin's status after he suffered a neck stinger during Tuesday's practice. It seems like a safe bet the All-Pro will be out for at least a little while, and it's questionable the Cowboys would want to rush him back into a game situation this Sunday.
"It's always a scare when a guy goes down – it's always a concern. I'm happy to hear that he's ok," Collins said.
On the other side of Travis Frederick, at the left guard spot, Ronald Leary is also being evaluated for a back injury.
"You cross your fingers every day you walk out here in these training camps," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones. "They're competing at high levels, and that's a big part of it – getting your team through the first game, and getting them through training camp."
By and large, the Cowboys don't seem to think the majority of their injuries are serious ones. For the present, though, it certainly looks like Collins is in line for another round of serious playing time when the team travels to San Francisco.
That's fine by Collins, who said the added opportunity shouldn't change his mindset.
"It's no different – it's the same approach," he said. "You just want to come out and take those reps and learn with them. The more reps you can get, the better."
Collins had a heavy workload last week in San Diego, as well. The starting trio of Leary, Frederick and Martin played one offensive series before ceding the field to Collins for the vast majority of the evening.[embeddedad0]
The rookie wasn't flawless, but he drew rave reviews – particularly for his ability to get to the second level on his blocks.
"With young players, playing helps them and the area where they get help the most is they just play more decisively the more they see the different looks," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "That might be particularly the case on the offensive line, if you think about the challenges those guys have, fronts are moving, there are some adjustments to what the defense is doing, how they need to communicate, come off the ball together and get to their assignment."
He added: "He played physically, he made some aggressive mistakes. He wasn't always on the right guy doing it the right way, but it was aggressive, it was hard, it was physical."
As the Cowboys get back to practice on Thursday, Collins should have plenty of opportunities to progress.