Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins declares center Travis Frederick as the new leader in the OL room.
The undrafted guard/tackle from LSU fielded questions about the legacy Doug Free left with the Cowboys offensive line at the National Fantasy Football Convention on Sunday in Dallas.
“I think Travis has taken over Doug’s spot,” Collins said. “So, I think it’s great to have him. Travis is a great guy. He’s great to be around. He knows the league. We’re excited about it.”
According to Collins, the recently-retired Free played through so many physical difficulties in his final season that he wouldn’t talk about them. Free’s tacit behavior toward injuries affected the left guard.
Said Collins: “You never heard Doug talk about it. You never heard him say, ‘Man, I’m feeling like this or I’m feeling like that.’ When you talked to Doug, he always had a positive attitude, positive mindset. I think that carried over, especially for a young guy. Sometimes you might feel like, man, I’m not feeling good. But you think about this 10-year vet over here that’s been doing it for a long time, you’re like, ‘Man, I’m great. Don’t worry about it. I’m feeling great.'”
In fact, Collins attempted to play through a torn ligament in his toe during the Cowboys’ 31-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 25. Collins injured himself during kicker Dan Bailey’s 49-yard field goal that gave Dallas a 10-0 lead with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
“I felt like I could walk, so I felt like I could probably play through it,” recalled Collins. “So, I tried to play a couple more series. And after one play, they were like, ‘Hey, we got to get you out of there.’ That’s what it was. I did that for my teammates who I go to war with.”
Collins will indeed go to war with his teammates in 2017. The lingering question is whether he will be kicked out to right tackle or left inside alongside left tackle Tyron Smith and new leader Frederick.