The right tackle spot will be one to monitor closely in Cincinnati during training camp, since that is the likeliest landing spot for former blindside protector Jonah Williams. Another option at the position may not be available to the Bengals by the start of the season.
La’el Collins is a strong candidate to be placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list in advance of the regular season, writes The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. (subscription required). That designation would keep him sidelined for at least six weeks, so the team will no doubt remain patient in their evaluation of the veteran tackle before deciding how to proceed with him.
Collins continues to rehab the torn ACL and MCL he suffered in December, injuries which added to his missed games over the course of his career and cut short his debut Bengals season. The 29-year-old spent his first seven years (six seasons) with the Cowboys, manning the RT spot during most of that time. His release from Dallas cleared the way for a three-year, $21MM pact in Cincinnati as part of the team’s rebuilding effort up front.
The former UDFA started all 15 games he played in last season, but he drew the second-worst overall PFF grade (57.9) of his career in the process. The Bengals were likewise unimpressed with Collins’ performance, something which likely played a small part in their decision to retain Williams in the aftermath of his trade request. The latter is now set to try his hand at a switch to right tackle, where his primary competition for a starting spot will be Jackson Carman.
Collins, when healthy, is thus likely suited for a backup role at the tackle spot. He has experience playing on the inside, but a unit involving he, Williams and free agent left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. on the field together is not under consideration. All attention will be on Collins’ level of progress in his recovery over the next few weeks, followed by his role during the campaign upon returning to full health and the team’s active roster.