During Dallas’ Wednesday practice session, Tyron Smith left with an apparent knee injury that didn’t seem overly concerning at first.
Todd Archer reported that Smith went down following a non-contact play and was grabbing his knee, which has been nagging Smith throughout training camp. But MRIs revealed the source of Smith’s pain was actually a torn left hamstring.
According to Adam Schefter, further tests performed today revealed Smith’s hamstring tore off the bone. Smith is set to meet with doctors later in the day to determine if surgery is required, and he’s not expected to return before December.
Smith has been anchoring the left side of Dallas’ offensive line since 2011, and recently earned a spot on the NFL’s Top 100 players list.
Smith injury is disappointing, not shocking
The eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro hasn’t played a full season since 2015. The last two seasons have been especially injury-riddled, as Smith missed 14 games in 2020 and six games in 2021.
There are a few different ways Dallas can cover the loss of Smith:
Josh Ball has served as the Cowboys’ swing tackle in the first two preseason games, but hasn’t yet shown he can be a competent starter. Ball was a fourth round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and he didn’t get any playing last season.
So Ball’s shortcomings in the preseason shouldn’t be entirely surprising because the Cowboys are seemingly putting too much on his plate too early in his career. Dallas drafted tackle Matt Waletzko this offseason to compete with Ball for the job, but the rookie injured his shoulder early in training camp and may miss the 2022 season.
Dallas’ first round pick Tyler Smith is currently competing with Connor McGovern for the starting spot at left guard. Smith played tackle at Tulsa, but Dallas’ coaching staff believes he may need a few seasons to sharpen his skills before kicking out to tackle. The Cowboys could opt to throw Smith into competition with Ball for starting tackle.
The last option at Dallas’ disposal is finding a left tackle in free agency to fill Smith’s void. Eric Fisher is one player whose name has been linked to the Cowboys since the news about Smith’s injury came out.
Fisher was the first overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft and has played nine seasons in the pros. The first eight were with the Kansas City Chiefs and last season, Fisher was with the Indianapolis Colts. The Central Michigan alum is a two-time Pro Bowler.
Lack of offseason activity continues rearing its ugly head
Jerry Jones and the rest of the Cowboys decision makers should’ve had a more solid plan in place to fill Smith’s role when he inevitably went down with an injury. Their plan to have Ball and Waletzko battle for the swing tackle spot was questionable from the start considering neither player has taken a snap in the NFL.
The Cowboys have also shot themselves in the foot as far as wide receiver depth is concerned. Dallas lost Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson in the offseason, both were top three receivers for Dallas in 2021. They then rebuilt positional depth by drafting Jalen Tolbert in the third round of the draft and signing veteran James Washington.
Now, Washington is due to miss games early this season due to a fractured foot suffered in training camp. Michael Gallup promises to be the Cowboys WR2 this season, but he’s going to miss time early on as he continues rehabbing his torn ACL from Week 17 of 2021.
So to open the season, Dallas’ wide receiver depth chart looks like this:
- WR1: CeeDee Lamb
- WR2: Jalen Tolbert
- WR3: Noah Brown
- WR4: Dennis Houston
- WR5: Simi Fehoko or KaVontae Turpin
Lamb and Brown are the only players with game experience in the NFL.
If the NFL struggles because they don’t have a competent starting left tackle or the receivers can’t get the job done, the responsibility should fall firmly on Jones’ shoulders.