Aug 21, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates a first quarter touchdown with tackle La'el Collins (71) against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Appeal of suspended Cowboys OL focuses on absences

Suspended Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins is pointing to excused absences from the team as a reason he missed drug tests in his appeal, ESPN is reporting.

Collins, 28, was suspended without pay last week for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. NFL Network reported that Collins was suspended for missing drug tests.

The five-game ban begins with Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

According to ESPN, his appeal claims that Collins had valid reasons for several of the missed tests.

He reportedly missed a November 2020 test when players had been sent home early to mourn the death of strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul.

A second missed test occurred while he was attending an uncle’s funeral, with permission from the team.

He reportedly missed another test last October on a day that he was scheduled to have hip surgery and was flagged for codeine after the fact, despite being prescribed the drug after the surgery.

The report also says that Collins hasn’t tested positive for marijuana over the previous 18 months.

Collins started at right tackle in the season-opening 31-29 road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played 99 percent of the snaps.

After the suspension, his agent issued a strongly worded statement criticizing the NFL’s decision.

“We are extremely disappointed in how the NFL has handled this entire matter from trampling on Mr. Collins’ rights to prematurely releasing the information knowing a timely appeal was filed to intentionally (mislead) the court at the hearing,” agent Peter Schaffer said in a statement. “The extent and effort the NFL went to accomplish its ends is appalling.”

Unless he wins the appeal, Collins won’t be allowed to return to the active roster until Oct. 18, the day after the Cowboys’ Week 6 game at New England. The Cowboys have a bye in Week 7, so he will not be eligible to play again until the Week 8 contest at Minnesota on Oct. 31.

Ty Nsekhe and Terence Steele are the primary backups at left and right tackle, respectively, but Nsekhe has been ruled out with a non-COVID illness.

Collins signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension in September 2019. Undrafted out of LSU in 2015, he has started 62 of his 63 games with the Cowboys. He missed all of last season with a hip injury that required surgery.

–Field Level Media

Dallas Cowboys NFL tackle La'el Collins

Cowboys OL La’el Collins suspended five games

The NFL suspended Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins five games without pay Friday for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

NFL Network reported that Collins was suspended for missing drug tests.

Collins, 28, missed all of last season with a hip injury that required surgery. He started at right tackle in Thursday night’s season-opening 31-29 road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Collins can return to the active roster on Oct. 18, the day after the Cowboys’ Week 6 game at New England. The Cowboys have a bye in Week 7, so he will not be eligible to play again until the Week 8 contest at Minnesota on Oct. 31.

Ty Nsekhe and Terence Steele are the primary backups at left and right tackle, respectively.

Collins signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension in September 2019. Undrafted out of LSU in 2015, he has started 62 of his 63 games with the Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin (70) prepares for the snap against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys RG Zack Martin tests positive for COVID-19

Dallas Cowboys All-Pro right guard Zack Martin tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Thursday night’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Martin, 30, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday.

Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Martin is “frustrated.”

“This is the world we live in right now,” McCarthy said.

Martin has started 104 of a possible 112 games since Dallas drafted him in the first round (16th overall) in 2014. He made six straight Pro Bowls and earned four first-team All-Pro selections from 2014-19 before missing six games last season with a calf injury.

Reserve guard Brandon Knight is in the COVID-19 protocols after being identified as a close contact.

Two Cowboys offensive linemen received better news. Multiple outlets reported that right tackle La’el Collins was cleared to return to practice Sunday after sitting out last week with a neck stinger, and left guard Connor Williams was activated from the COVID-19 list.

–Field Level Media

Jun 8, 2021; Frisco, TX, USA;  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) runs a drill against cornerback Maurice Canady (28) during voluntary Organized Team Activities at the Ford Center at the Star Training Facility in Frisco, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cowboys activate WR CeeDee Lamb from COVID list

The Dallas Cowboys are activating wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, defensive tackle Carlos Watkins and safety Damontae Kazee from the reserve/COVID-19 list, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Starting guard Connor Williams and wideout Noah Brown remain on the list. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who missed two preseason games after testing positive for the coronavirus, returned to work on Wednesday.

Watkins was sent home before the Aug. 21 preseason game against the Houston Texans, while Lamb and Kazee were placed on the reserve list on Aug. 24.

The Cowboys kick off the 2021 regular season against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Thursday night in Tampa, Fla.

A first-round pick in 2020, the 22-year-old Lamb caught 74 passes for 935 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (14 starts) during his rookie campaign.

Kazee, 28, signed with the Cowboys in March after playing his first four seasons with Atlanta. He picked off 10 passes and forced five fumbles in 52 games (34 starts) with the Falcons from 2017-20.

Watkins, 27, signed with Dallas in March after four seasons with Houston. He started 18 of his 42 games with the Texans from 2017-20.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws prior to the game against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jones: QB Dak Prescott ‘good to go’ for Week 1

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has declared quarterback Dak Prescott “good to go” for the season opener.

Interviewed before Sunday’s preseason finale against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones said Prescott had a productive week of practice as he accelerated his recovery from a training camp shoulder injury.

“He really turned it loose and was none the worse for it,” Jones said. “The MRIs are showing all systems go. He’s throwing with velocity (and) emphasis. Throwing on the run.”

The Cowboys kick off the regular season on Sept. 9 against the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions.

Prescott, 28, has not played since suffering a season-ending leg injury during a win against the New York Giants on Oct. 11, 2020.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection agreed to a four-year, $160 million deal in March, with $126 million guaranteed.

A 2016 fourth-round draft pick, Prescott has passed for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions over five seasons with the Cowboys and 69 games (all starts).

His best season came in 2019 when he passed for 4,902 yards and 30 TDs, both career bests, but Dallas went just 8-8 that season and did not advance to the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

Jul 25, 2021; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during training camp at the Marriott Residence Inn. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Injured QB Dak Prescott dressed for padded Cowboys practice

Injured quarterback Dak Prescott took the practice field with the Cowboys on Thursday in Oxnard, Calif., one day after leaving a training camp session with a Grade 1 shoulder strain.

Prescott walked off the field with medical staff on Wednesday and was taken for an MRI, which revealed the mild strain in his right (throwing) shoulder.

The Dallas Morning News reported Prescott could miss multiple weeks to guarantee the strain is fully healed.

But Prescott, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday, said he doesn’t think the injury is serious and plans to practice with the Cowboys during camp.

Head coach Mike McCarthy will make the final call on the practice decision, but allowed Prescott to work with the team Thursday while forbidding throwing. McCarthy said the Cowboys are planning to reassess Prescott, but he’d likely be banned from throwing for a few days.

Prescott missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season with an ankle injury that required surgery.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection signed a four-year, $160 million contract in the offseason.

–Field Level Media