FRISCO - Dallas Cowboys starting right tackle La’el Collins first bonded with Dak Prescott over their shared love for fishing. More recently - the last half-year, really - their bond was made stronger by struggle.
And now, as both approach the 2021 NFL season with new-found and hard-earned health?
When I see that guy, that’s who I do it for, I do it for that guy,'' Collins said of his QB. "That’s my locker mate. And I’ll protect him at all cost.”
Collins, of course, missed all of last season after a hip problem forced him to have surgery. He was never able to get on the field.
Prescott famously exited the 2020 season in Week 5 after sustaining that gruesome ankle injury.
The two of them worked together to rehab their way back for work in the Cowboys' recent OTAs and minicamp. Prescott has proclaimed himself to be "100 percent.'' Collins is getting there, and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in Oxnard right around July 20.
“You see everything that he’s doing,” Collins said. “I mean, even when it’s tough, he pushes through. He’s definitely a big-time leader. Man, it gives me chills to think about it, because he don’t complain, even if things are bothering him. He just finds a way to keep going and keep pushing through that goes a long way with guys.''
Part of Collins' challenge in last spring's COVID-related questions about even having an NFL season were weight-related. He came into camp heavy - and that may have contributed to the hip problems.
He had weighed 323, he said. He's worked his way down to 313 and is planning at playing at 309.
Collins promises that he's lost no strength in the process of losing the weight. And he's gained more of something else - respect for the Cowboys leader Prescott.
"There’s been days where we're out there and it’s like, ‘Man, it’s a tough day,'' Collins said of the rehab process. "But he keeps going, and it just makes everybody else want to keep going, especially me.''