When the Dallas Cowboys take the field against the Los Angeles Chargers they will be without the services of starting offensive tackle La’el Collins. Collins was suspended multiple games for violating the leagues’ substance abuse policy. It is unclear who will start in his place. A couple of names to watch are All-Pro guard Zach Martin, fresh off the COVID-19 list, to kick out as he did for two games last season, along with backup tackles Dennis Knight and Terrence Steele. Steele made 14 starts last year as an undrafted rookie from Texas Tech. He drew rave reviews during training camp. If Martin kicks out, expect Connor McGovern to take his spot at guard.
For Dallas to have any success defensively, they need to slow down Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert the defending offensive rookie of the year. Last week he threw for 337 yards and a touchdown against a stout Washington Football Team defense. His top two targets are receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, who combined for 17 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. Running back Austin Eckler is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league and puts pressure on the Cowboys linebacker core. Washington managed two red-zone turnovers but could not take advantage of something Dallas needs to. The pass rush must come ready to play. That might be tough with end Randy Gregory going on the COVID-19 list and star end Demarcus Lawerence breaking his foot in practice on Wednesday.
Offensively Dallas must stop Chargers end Joey Bosa, one of the best in the league. He had a fumble recovery last week and will require a double team. In the second level, the Chargers boast one of the best safeties in the league in Derwin James and young linebacker Kenneth Murray. Murray led the team with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery while James was second with seven tackles. Dallas needs to get running back Ezekiel Eilllot going to not only take pressure off quarterback Dak Prescott but provide some balance to the offense. Losing receiver Michael Gallup to injured reserve hurts the unit as Cedrick Wilson is slated to start in his spot. For the offense to have success, it must have balance and win the time of possession battle by having long, sustained drives. Last week the Chargers ran 79 plays compared to Washington’s 49 and had the ball for over 13 minutes more.