GRAPEVINE, Texas – He wasn't allowed to participate in last weekend's rookie minicamp, but La'el Collins is back with the Cowboys and working in the team's offseason program.
"He's no different than anybody else now," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones at the team's annual golf outing on Wednesday.
That sentence undoubtedly sounds good to Collins, who took an unprecedented road through undrafted free agency to become the newest member of the Cowboys' offensive line. After signing with the team last Thursday, an obscure note in the NFL CBA made him ineligible to participate in the Cowboys' three-day rookie minicamp, forcing him to return home to Louisiana instead.
Collins arrived back in Dallas on Monday, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he's already in the process of acclimating to the offseason program. He added that Collins' absence at rookie camp shouldn't hinder his development this spring.
"Everybody's kind of in the same boat," Garrett said. "It would have been nice to have him out there for that, but he's getting integrated into our program real quickly and has done a good job the last couple of days."
As has been well-documented by now, the LSU prospect was expected to go in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft on April 30, but his questioning by police in a Baton Rouge, La., murder case dropped him out of the three-day event entirely.
The Cowboys made waves across the NFL last week when they signed Collins to an inexpensive free agent contract, giving them four first-round talents on their offensive line. In a radio interview with 105.3 FM The Fan on Wednesday afternoon, Tony Romo gave full credit for the shrewd move to team owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
"Jerry is definitely the best. Once he gets you to sit down with him, usually he's got a very good track record," Romo said. "So I felt great once he called me and told me 'He's in town. We'd like you to come over and have dinner.' I kind of felt like, in that moment, I didn't even need to show up – because Jerry is that good."