IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' pass rush has suffered another setback this offseason, as rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins has been sidelined with a broken right foot.
Collins suffered the injury last week during the Cowboys' first round of OTAs, and he'll miss the remaining six of nine offseason practices – not to mention June's three-day minicamp.
The third-round draft pick has already undergone surgery, and the initial timetable for recovery is expected to be 10-to-12 weeks -- which would have him set to return to the field somewhere around the tail end of training camp.
The injury is sure to be an obstacle for Collins, who the Cowboys are hoping can bolster their pass rush in his debut season after being selected No. 67 overall last month. But even if he heals in time to take part in training camp and the preseason, he'll be unavailable for the remainder of the Cowboys' offseason practices – including the mandatory minicamp in two weeks.
Given the learning curve for rookie defensive linemen in the NFL, that's bound to slow Collins' development in the coming months.
The Cowboys have some experience with that problem, as this isn't the first time a rookie pass rusher has suffered a foot injury in recent years. DeMarcus Lawrence broke his foot during his rookie training camp back in 2014, and he was placed on short-term injured reserve until November. Lawrence had a tough time acclimating after that absence, though he did recover in time to notch two sacks in the 2014-15 playoffs, including a game-winning strip-sack against Detroit.
It's hard to speculate on what the injury means for Collins – beyond the fact that he'll miss the remainder of the team's spring practices. The Cowboys will no doubt be hopeful that their rookie pass rusher can return to action before the preseason concludes, but that will depend on how quickly the foot heals.[embeddedad0]
In the meantime, the Cowboys' lack of depth on the defensive line just became a little more troubling. Collins' specialty coming out of Nebraska is penetrating and contributing to the pass rush, and team officials were optimistic enough to make him a third-round pick.
While they wait for Collins to return, the Cowboys still have talent to man their interior defensive line. Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton and Terrell McClain remain as the primary options, with versatile players like Jack Crawford and David Irving behind them. Undrafted free agent Rodney Coe is another name the front office is intrigued by.
All of that said, it's still an undeniable setback for one of the Cowboys' more promising talents – especially for a unit that is in need of them.