How Dallas Cowboys can fill gaping hole opened by LT Tyron Smith injury – Dallas Cowboys Blog

FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys contemplated life without left tackle Tyron Smith in the spring when they decided to pick Tyler Smith in the first round of the draft.

That life will begin much sooner than the Cowboys had hoped as Tyron Smith suffers from a torn left hamstring that could force him to miss several months, sources told ESPN.

How the Cowboys deal with Smith’s absence — perhaps by the end of November, depending on further evaluation of the injury he sustained in practice Wednesday — will determine whether his potential return later in the season is the most prudent course of action.

Replacing Smith isn’t easy.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Smith has the highest run-block win rate (78.6%) over the past four seasons (900 or more run-block games). Over the past five seasons, running back Ezekiel Elliott has averaged 4.5 yards per carry with Smith on the field and 4 yards without him. In the same span, 12% of Elliott’s rushes for 10 yards or more have come with Smith on the field; 9% without him.

In passing over the past two seasons, the Cowboys have averaged 7.8 yards per attempt with Smith and 7.1 yards without him. The layoff rate goes from 4.2% with him to 6.2% without him.

For his career, the Cowboys are 17-16 without Smith, including a 4-2 mark last season when Terence Steele started with left tackle.

What can the cowboys do?

Start the future now, starting Tyler Smith in left tackle

Smith split his spring work between guard and tackle, but he played exclusively left guard during training camp and the first two games of preseason when he competed with Connor McGovern. On Wednesday, Mike McCarthy said McGovern would be the starter if the season started now as Smith has been struggling with an ankle injury that has kept him away for the past two days.

At Tulsa, Smith started 21 games at left touchline in the last two seasons. He was tagged 16 times last season (12 in penalties), and it may not be the fairest move to get him tackled again with not much practice ahead of the Sept. 11 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rearrange the offensive line

The Cowboys could take Steele to left tackle and take Josh Ball, Matt Waletzko or Aviante Collins to right tackle with Zack Martin as a last resort to right tackle.

They opted to cut La’el Collins during the offseason, in part because they felt Steele was ready to take on the right tackle spot. He started left tackle in six games last season and has started 21 games with right tackle in his first two NFL seasons.

He is able to play at left flank but has not accepted work there this summer.

Martin only really played tackle in 2020 after the Cowboys ran out of viable options and he suffered a calf strain. He’s one of the best guards in football but has shown in his brief stint there that he can handle the right tackle spot. It’s not ideal, but again, sometimes life isn’t fair.

The next man with the ball or Waletzko

Ball was a fourth-round pick by Marshall in 2021 and didn’t play a snap last season due to an ankle injury. Waletzko was a fifth-round pick from North Dakota in 2022 and missed most of training camp due to a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.

The Cowboys live in a draft-and-development world these days, but the decision to go with untested tackles to protect quarterback Dak Prescott’s blind side seems like a gamble.

Make a trade or sign a free agent

Always easier said than done, but there are some veteran free agents who could be palatable, especially at this point in the summer. Eric Fisher started 15 games as a left tackle for the Indianapolis Colts last season. He was a 2020 Pro Bowler for the Kansas City Chiefs but suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the playoffs. he is 31

The Cowboys know Jason Peters well, having competed against him for as long as he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started 15 games for the Chicago Bears in left tackle last season but is 40 years old.

The New England Patriots have reportedly considered dealing with former first-round pick Isaiah Wynn, who started 33 of the 34 games he has played after missing his rookie season. He is expected to earn $10.4 million this season. While the Cowboys have the salary cap headroom needed to make a move, the price to get it might be too high.

https://www.espn.com/blog/dallas/cowboys/post/_/id/4775350/how-dallas-cowboys-can-fill-gaping-hole-opened-by-lt-tyron-smith-injury How Dallas Cowboys can fill gaping hole opened by LT Tyron Smith injury – Dallas Cowboys Blog

Emma Bowman

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