When the Dallas Cowboys signed undrafted rookie free agent La'el Collins, some people immediately penciled him in at left guard for Week 1 of the regular season. This assumption bothered incumbent starter Ronald Leary.
"It bothered me a little bit, but it's part of the game,'' Leary said, per Dallas Morning News. "I know I can play. I know I'm a starter in this league. I've just got to remind everybody.''
Leary has a point. Although Collins was widely considered a top-15 talent overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, like any rookie, he's raw. Leary is the opposite. Leary has started 31 games at left guard since the 2013 season opener, and he had his best season in 2014. Last year, he graded out as the eighth-best left guard in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. The website that grades every individual play for every had Leary graded out as their fifth-best offensive guard overall in run blocking.
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Leary believes that he is a starter in this league, but he also confirmed that he is positive he will be a starter on the Cowboys in 2015. When asked about the Cowboys' starting left guard job, he didn't hesitate in his response.
"It is mine,'' Leary said. "Definitely.''
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett won't declare a starter on August 5th. Instead, he points to an open competition, which is something that he hopes to breed at every position.
"It's about competition," Garrett told reporters, per The Dallas Morning News. "We make it abundantly clear with everybody on our team it's our job to constantly look for guys who make the Dallas Cowboys football team better. Period. So it's going to be competitive. It's going to be competitive within the guys who are on our team already. It's going to be competitive with guys who aren't on our team who we think might be able to come in and make our team better. The standard is going to be high, the competition is going to be high and that's what they need to expect."
When it comes to the offensive side of the ball, this will be the most interesting training camp battle to keep an eye on after the running backs, of course.
(h/t Dallas Morning News)