Cowboys Sign Former Vikings, Steelers OT as Issues Mount

Former Steelers OT Aviante Williams

Getty Former Steelers OT Aviante Williams

With starting right tackle La’el Collins battling a neck stinger and backup Brandon Knight on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Dallas Cowboys added some much-needed insurance along their offensive line.

The Cowboys signed former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Aviante Collins to their practice squad, which is now at its 16-player capacity, the team announced Monday.

Collins is the third lineman to land on Dallas’ taxi squad, joining OT Isaac Alarcon and center Braylon Jones. The group also includes quarterback Ben DiNucci, running back JaQuan Hardy, fullback Nick Ralston, wide receivers Osirus Mitchell and Brandon Smith, tight end Ian Bunting, defensive end Austin Faoliu, defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, cornerback Kyron Brown, and safety Darian Thompson.

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Background on Collins

A 2017 undrafted free agent, Collins has five games of NFL experience to his name — all with the Minnesota Vikings. The 28-year-old has not made a regular-season appearance since 2019 when he logged one start for Minnesota.

Collins finished last season on the Vikings’ practice squad. His contract expired, he inked a futures deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in February and spent the offseason on their 90-man roster. Collins was waived on Aug. 24.

A Houston native, Collins played collegiately at TCU, honing his craft at both tackle and guard. During the 2017 Scouting Combine, the 6-foot-4, 292-pound blocker clocked a (relatively) blistering 4.81 seconds in the 40-yard dash, one of the fastest times recorded by any offensive lineman in the event’s history.

“The more you watch of Collins, the more you like,”’s Lance Zierlein said in his pre-draft scouting report. “His athleticism is the first thing you will notice, but his toughness and determination to stay tied to his blocks are what will start to win you over. Finding the right fit will be the problem. He lacks size and length as a tackle and his below average hand usage will get him in trouble against bull rushers if he moves to guard. Collins is a talented move blocker, but he may need a year or two to get stronger and to tighten up some technique issues.”

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McGovern ‘Ready’ to Go at Tampa Bay

The Cowboys moving star right guard Zack Martin to the COVID-19 list — and likely ruling him out of Thursday’s season-opener against the Buccaneers — thrusts third-year reserve Connor McGovern into the spotlight. But the club is confident McGovern will hold his own in a tough Week 1 matchup.

“He’ll definitely be ready for this opportunity,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday. “Great work ethic. I thought he finished last year as one of the stronger performers on our offensive line at the end of the season. … Definitely one of the offseason bright spots of an offseason where we had a lot of bright spots.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL