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La'el Collins ready to replace Ronald Leary at left guard

Rookie La'el Collins knew he’d get an opportunity to start one day. He just didn’t know when it would happen.

Now, he does.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Collins will replace Ronald Leary at left guard. Leary, a starter the past two seasons, played poorly against New England.

"We really just watched the tape," Garrett said. "We evaluated his tape vs. Ron's tape over the last couple of weeks and we just feel like he's deserving of this opportunity right now.

"We're going to give LC an opportunity at that spot this week and the chance to start against the Giants next week."

Collins rotated with backup guard Mackenzy Bernadeau earlier this season when Leary missed a game with a strained groin. He’s played 93 snaps this season and been inactive three times.

“This is definitely the start of showing I'm becoming the player I want to be,” Collins said. “I’m just taking that approach every day.

“For me, I never looked at it as being difficult (being inactive). I just looked at it as preparing myself, preparing myself to get ready to be where I am and just come out and work hard every day. So that’s why for me the preparation and everything that goes into it never changes. I just kind of need to keep that same pace and now pick it up a notch.”

Collins, a first-round talent, did not get drafted after he was questioned in a murder investigation regarding a woman he once dated. He was never charged or arrested yet still went undrafted.

He signed as a rookie free agent with the Cowboys.

“When a younger guy is in you’ve got to give him a little bit more help,” center Travis Frederick said, “but he’s a guy who’s been through the meetings, he’s been in camp now, he’s been in there. So for us, it’s just about continuing to get better as a group.”