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Cowboys' La'el Collins looking for more than just 'wow' plays

IRVING, Texas – After last week’s loss to Green Bay, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said La’el Collins played “lights out.”

If you’re judging that off Darren McFadden’s 45-yard run in the third quarter, then you would be right.

On a toss to the left, Collins pulled in front of McFadden, bowled over Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and kept on chugging down the field. For a 315-pound guard, it was an impressive moment, and Collins has had a few of those during the season.

“That guy, he was moving, man,” McFadden said.

While pleased with his showing on that run, what stuck with Collins more from the loss to the Packers was his short-yardage work. Facing third-and-1 from the Dallas 10 on the Cowboys’ second drive of the game, Collins could not keep his feet against defensive tackle Letroy Guion, and Robert Turbin was stopped for no gain.

That came after Mike Pennel shot across the front of Collins on first-and-goal from the Packers 1 to stop help stop McFadden.

"Really, going back to that goal-line play, just blocking down that defensive lineman, understanding that I got to keep my feet up underneath me, not slipping, staying in blocking and finishing," Collins said. "Just really knowing that I can do that better, just continue to work on it. When you're down on the goal line there are a lot of things that you just can't allow. You can't allow a little bit of penetration. You can't allow even just a little bit of uncleanliness."

Jason Garrett constantly harps that he doesn’t want “flash” players. Since becoming a starter, Collins has made the "wow" plays that garner offensive linemen highlights on television. It’s the highlights in the coaches’ rooms that matter more.

"He's had those plays that are very impressive," Garrett said. "He has a really good ability to get out in space, block guys and stay on the move and block other guys. We've seen that throughout the year. Not every lineman is capable of doing that, so he's done a good job of that and those are important things to be able to do. He also has to improve on the play-by-play in the run game, in his pass protection. If you look at him over the course of the season he's improved greatly in those areas and he's maturing as a player."