Tyler Smith could be the new left tackle

Tyler Smith could be the new left tackle

Frisco, TX- Officially, the Cowboys haven’t announced a starter to replace left tackle Tyron Smith, who suffered a torn hamstring that required surgery last week and could be sidelined until the end. of the regular season.

But it’s becoming clear that first-choice Tyler Smith will be a big factor in the conversation.

“The good news is that we reinforced (left tackle depth) in the draft,” Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said after the preseason finale against Seattle at AT&T Stadium.

“From the start, we said he (Tyler Smith) was our future left tackle. The future could be sooner rather than later, a bit like Dak (Prescott in 2016).”

That year, Prescott was a fourth-round draft pick and went improbably from third to starter in just one training camp after injuries to Tony Romo and Kellen Moore. Prescott led the Cowboys to 13 wins and the No. 1 seed overall, made the Pro Bowl, won Offensive Rookie of the Year and never looked back.

“He had to step in when Tony got injured,” Jones said. “We didn’t look for a veteran quarterback. We put him in place. And I think the group (offensive line) in general has a lot of faith in the five guys we have.”

It’s also possible that with final cuts in the league, the Cowboys will turn to veteran tackles for help. But as Jones said, “the offensive line is a tough area in this league right now” in terms of finding immediate help.

Tyler Smith had practice time at left tackle during the spring OTAs, but worked exclusively at left guard in a competition with Connor McGovern. But the lack of reps at tackle in recent weeks hasn’t worried the Cowboys.

“(Tackle) is where he played in college,” Jones said. “It’s not unusual for him to go out there and be tackled on the left. And that’s why we kept him on the left side because there’s a lot of things that go together. That’s why it was important to really get him working there rather than moving him to the right tackle, the left side works well, and we’ll see.

“We haven’t made the final decision on exactly what we’re going to do, but (by) the start of the week we will have made that decision.”

Tyler Smith did not play Friday against the Seahawks due to a minor ankle problem that kept him out of practice during the week. Freshman tackle Josh Ball and rookie Matt Waletzko shared snaps at left tackle against Seattle. It was Waletzko’s NFL debut after returning this week from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of training camp.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said Tyler Smith had a good rehabilitation session on Friday and could improve with some on-court work over the weekend. It’s an encouraging sign heading into the regular season opener on Sept. 11 against Tampa Bay.

McCarthy, like Jones, declined to speculate on the Cowboys’ next plans at left tackle. But he said 60% of Tyler Smith’s practice reps in the offseason program were at tackle, not guard.

And as Jones said, Tyler Smith played left tackle all three seasons at Tulsa before entering the NFL Draft and being selected 24th overall by Dallas.

It looks like it’s possible he could return to left tackle at some point in his rookie season, if not Week 1.

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