Collins’ exact infraction is not clear; however, multiple sources said he did not fail any tests. Lawyers for Collins continue to appeal on his behalf, arguing that the policy allows for a fine but not a suspension for a player who has only failed to appear for drug testing, a source told ESPN’s Ed Werder.
Collins will be eligible to return to the roster on Oct. 18, the day after the Cowboys play the New England Patriots.
Collins has started 62 of the 63 games he has played for the Cowboys since 2015 at left guard or right tackle. He missed 13 games in 2016 because of a toe injury and all of last season because of hip surgery. His appearance in Thursday’s opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was in question the week prior to kickoff because of a stinger issue that knocked him out of two practices.
Without Collins, the Cowboys could seek a replacement in a variety of ways.
Veteran Ty Nsekhe and Terence Steele, who started 14 games last year, served as the backup offensive tackles against the Buccaneers. If the Cowboys go for a tackle-for-tackle swap, then either could replace Collins.
The Cowboys could shift six-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin to tackle and keep Connor McGovern at right guard. Martin started two games at right tackle last year before a calf injury ended his season. Martin remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but he is expected back in time for the Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Last week, coach Mike McCarthy was asked about playing Martin at tackle this season.
“I would hope we don’t have to go that way ever again,” the McCarthy said. “It speaks volumes about Zack Martin how he jumped out there and gave us the quality of play he was able to give us.”
Collins’ absence will not be the only one for the Cowboys’ offense. Wide receiver Michael Gallup left the 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers early with a calf strain that a source said could keep him out three to five weeks. He had four catches for 36 yards before getting injured in the second half. Cedrick Wilson moved in as the No. 3 receiver alongside Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb after Gallup went down.