FRISCO, Texas – This is a situation that could call for some creativity.
As of Friday afternoon, Tyron Smith is officially listed as questionable on the Cowboys' injury report. It's possible the perennial Pro Bowler can gut it out and play against the Falcons on Sunday, but the Cowboys obviously have to prepare in the event that he can't.
"We'll see at game time what we've got with him," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones on Friday morning. "The good news is the people that would replace him, the combinations of people that would replace him will have had more time to work on it than we had this time last week."
The use of the word "combinations" is interesting – because it might not be as simple as plugging and playing. The Cowboys were already leaning on rookie tackle Terence Steele, as La'el Collins is still on injured reserve. To make matters worse, Cameron Erving injured his knee last week and is also on injured reserve.
That leaves them with some choices to make. Steele is healthy and figures to play his second NFL game this weekend. There's also Brandon Knight, who played two games at tackle when Smith and Collins were injured last season. The Cowboys also signed veteran tackle Alex Light off of Arizona's practice squad this week – though it seems unlikely he'd be asked to contribute so quickly after signing.
It's always possible they could think outside the box. Speaking on 105.3 FM The Fan on Friday afternoon, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones was asked if Connor Williams could be considered as a last-ditch option to man the tackle job.
"I think once you start to have injuries, you look at all your options," Jones said. "Obviously, when we draft players, if they have flexibility to play multiple positions, that's important. Whether it's a Zack Martin, whether it's a Connor Williams, whether it's a La'el Collins – who's been a guard and a tackle – I think all those things are on the table when you start to have multiple injuries at one position."
It's interesting to note that Jones mentioned both Williams and Martin. Williams has long been speculated about as a possible tackle, largely because he was a two-time All-American left tackle during his college career at Texas.
Because of his ridiculous success at guard, people tend to forget about Martin's own history at tackle. During his career at Notre Dame, Martin was a four-year starter at left tackle, making 52 career starts and also earning All-America honors. He has never had to play tackle at the professional level, but it stands to reason that he probably could.
Obviously, the preference is that Smith is healthy enough to play when Sunday rolls around. But it could get interesting if he doesn't. Between Williams and Martin, they have two guards who can play tackle. Knight gives them a tackle who can also play guard. And it's also worth mentioning that another three of their interior linemen – Joe Looney, Tyler Biadasz and Connor McGovern – all have experience playing both guard and center.
Only the Cowboys know how they'll play it if Smith can't go. But they'll certainly have a number of options.
Don't miss the chance to see the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium when they take on the Atlanta Falcons in the first regular season home game of the 2020 season on Sunday, Sept. 20th. Click HERE to buy your tickets now!
Details on all of the health and safety procedures you can expect at AT&T Stadium this season can be viewed at www.DallasCowboys.com/safestadium.