Cowboys guard Ron Leary never gave La'el Collins chance to win job

The play of guard Ronald Leary, right, has kept touted rookie La'el Collins on the bench. Getty Images

IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys wined and dined La'el Collins at Jerry Jones' Highland Park home after the draft, they invited Tony Romo, Jason Witten and three-fifths of the starting offensive line.

Absent were right tackle Doug Free and left guard Ronald Leary, the players Collins would compete with for a starting job. After a few days at tackle in the spring, Collins has been used exclusively at guard, but he has not bumped Leary out of a job.

During practices in Oxnard, California, there never really was a competition for the job because of how well Leary performed. When Collins did work with the first team, it had to do with back spasms that kept Leary on the sideline for a few days.

"I think they knew (my competitiveness) already, that I’m a big, competitive guy," Leary said. "My offensive linemen I play with, they know I’m real competitive. Nothing wrong with a little extra fuel to it."

The Cowboys fully guaranteed Collins' three-year deal, worth close to $1.6 million, to secure his rights after he fell out of the draft after he was questioned -- and cleared -- by police in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, murder case.

Leary was once the big undrafted find from the Cowboys. In 2012 they guaranteed him more than $200,000 after teams crossed him off draft boards because of a knee condition. He spent the season on the Cowboys’ practice squad, but has started 31 of the past 32 games at left guard.

Coach Jason Garrett has been impressed with how Leary responded to the challenge.

"It's good for our team," Garrett said. "It really doesn’t matter where guys come from. It matters what you do. We made that abundantly clear to everybody and Ron Leary stepped up and competed each and every day. He said, 'I want to be your left guard.' He didn’t say it out loud. He just said it with his play. We are hoping the other guys do the same thing. That is really good for your team when that happens."