IRVING, Texas – It's been roughly a month since La'el Collins arrived at Valley Ranch – and subsequently, it's been about a month since people began trying to give Ron Leary's job away.
The logic is sound. The Cowboys famously boast first-round picks at three of the five spots on the offensive line, and they just gave starting right tackle Doug Free a three-year, $15 million contract.
Thinking critically, that leaves one starting position up for grabs – the left guard spot that's been occupied by Ron Leary since 2013. The third-year veteran isn't likely to do a lot of talking about the competition for his job, as he plans to let his play speak for him.
"I think you turn on the film – you turn on the film from last year, you know I can play," Leary said. "I'm just in it to prove to myself that I can be the best Ron Leary that I can be, and all the chips will fall in place."
The prospect of a position battle shouldn't be anything new for Leary, who joined the Cowboys in 2012 as a priority undrafted free agent out of Memphis. In that span of time, he's risen from roster cut, to practice squad player, to backup, to starter.
Whether it's a challenge from La'el Collins or someone else, Leary said it's not a new concept to fight for his job.
"I think it just comes with the game. They're always bringing in guys to take your job, and being an undrafted guy, you know that you've got to prove it every year," he said. "He was a highly-ranked guy, just like Tyron and all of them, so you know all the hype is going to be around him, but I mean, I'm still here."
Mentioning Tyron Smith raises some solid points in Leary's favor – not just his experience, but his chemistry with the existing line. He has worked alongside Travis Frederick and Zack Martin for the duration of their NFL careers, and he has started next to Smith for two seasons.
"I think now that I've been here for this long, I know the system. Now it's just trying to fine tune little techniques and learn little ways to win blocks – things like that," he said.
The Cowboys ran the ball to Smith and Leary's side of the line 139 times last season, averaging almost five yards per carry in the process. That type of production is attention-grabbing, even if the blockers providing it aren't.
"Me and T, we communicate real good, over the last two or three years of being with each other. We've got that down," Leary said. "Now it's just like little techniques, different things and trying to do things better – keep trying to do things better."
In the results-based world of the NFL, none of that is going to help Leary keep his job. The Cowboys' coaching staff has already repeated ad nauseam that they'll field the best possible unit.
"We're going to play our five best offensive linemen. And we're going to figure out who those guys are," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on the day Collins signed with the team.
The main moral might be: don't be so quick to assume Ron Leary isn't one of those five.