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Ronald Leary to work out for Cowboys following rash of offensive line injuries as possible reunion looms

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Sometimes it makes sense to revisit the past to help save the present and ultimately the future, and this could be one of those times for the Dallas Cowboys. Having already doubled back and signed defensive back Brandon Carr to a second stint with the team with the goal of upgrading the safety position, they might dip their toe yet again in the waters — this time to help an offensive line ravaged by injury. They’re scheduled to meet with/work out Ronald Leary, per the league’s transaction wire, a former starting left guard who was once a part of what many dubbed the best offensive line in all of football. 

It’s a move they would’ve benefitted from looking into back in March, but better late than never.

Leary parted ways with the Cowboys following the 2016 season, parlaying his ascent from the ranks of the undrafted into a four-year, $36 million deal with the Denver Broncos that included $20 million guaranteed. It was a price the Cowboys deemed too steep for them at the time, and Leary went on to log 29 starts, which included flexing between right and left guard. Seeing as the Cowboys are more than fine at the former, thanks to the durability and continued Hall of Fame play from Zack Martin, a reunion would see Leary slide back into his previous role left of center.

He’s had his bout with injury over the past several seasons, including a torn Achilles in 2018 that landed him on injured reserve and cost him 10 games, but he returned in 2019 to participate in 12 — sidelined the final four with a separate injury. Leary insists he is “feeling great” in 2020 and would love a return to the Cowboys. As a matter of fact, he never sold his house in North Texas, making for an easy transition. 

I do still have my crib in Dallas,” he said earlier this offseason when asked if he had interest in returning to the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have struggled to replace Leary since he took his talents to the Mile High City, attempting to do so by using a second-round pick on Connor Williams in the 2017 NFL Draft. While Williams has shown flashes of potential as a starting left guard, he has himself battled injury that cost him games each of his first two years, including a season-ending knee injury in 2019. Now returned, but with La’El Collins on injured reserve and a neck injury threatening the availability of Tyron Smith, the team is discussing the possibility of having Williams spend time at the tackle position. That wouldn’t be the worst idea, considering that’s the position he played at Texas and the one wherein he made a name for himself at the collegiate level.

And for those wondering about second-year interior lineman Connor McGovern, he’s simply not ready to take the mantle. The former Penn State star suffered a setback in the form of a torn pectoral muscle in 2019, leaving him nothing more than a redshirt his rookie season. Now recovered, he was without minicamp and preseason to acclimate to the ranks of the NFL and, as such, still has a learning curve to shorten going forward.

As for Leary, while the 31-year-old has already entered COVID-19 protocol that would allow him into the team’s facility in the next day or so, two sources tell CBS Sports, don’t expect to see Leary on the field when the Cowboys host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2, even if a deal is agreed to. It’s a move that could help shore up glaring issues on the offensive line as early as Week 3, and just in time for an(other) important NFC clash — this time with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 27. 

There is much for the Cowboys to figure out on their once vaunted offensive front, and not simply at starter to the left and right of Joe Looney and Martin. With Cam Erving now moved to injured reserve (sprained MCL) after Week 1, the promotion of Eric Smith to the active roster helps, but can’t be viewed as a salute to a savior. Much like Carr in the secondary, it makes sense the Cowboys would reach out to Leary, and the interest is mutual.

The only thing left now is to put pen to paper.

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