FRISCO, Texas — While center Tyler Biadasz might be on the mend quicker than the Cowboys originally anticipated following his apparent high ankle sprain against the Titans last week, they will still likely be without him for the season finale against the Commanders in Week 18.
The most likely starting five up front for the Cowboys will be what they finished up with in Tennessee following the injury to Biadasz, with Jason Peters moving into the left tackle spot, thus pushing rookie Tyler Smith over to left guard and Connor McGovern into the center role.
That would leave Zach Martin and Tyron Smith on the right side at guard and tackle, respectively. For the younger Smith, he was of course originally slated to play left guard to open the year, only to move back to his natural position of tackle with the injury to the elder Smith.
Fortunately, it shouldn't be a problem for the rookie to head back inside.
"Definitely just making sure I'm on top of all of the technical things that I have to do with the transition," Smith said. "Luckily, they have been rotating me throughout the year and I was able to get reps at it. But just being tight on my assignments, being tight on my technique… Just understanding that I'm more in that phone booth than on the island again."
The good news for Smith, and the Cowboys' offensive line as a whole, is that three potential future Hall of Famer will be starting in Martin, Tyron Smith, and Peters. For Peters, he has split time on the left side at guard and tackle, but also served as a mentor for the rookie Smith.
Now, they'll be paired up together for an extended period of time and be able to put their immense communication skills to the test with everyone's responsibility shifting.
"I try to over communicate with everybody, but especially when it's me and [Peters,]" Smith said. "Me and [him] just over communicate on everything. I tell him 'I'm going, you got him.' We don't care who knows because at the end of the day we know what we're supposed to and block the way it's supposed to be blocked."
As for the man holding down the fort in the meantime until Biadasz is healthy enough to return, the center position won't be completely foreign to McGovern. He's had experience at the keystone but has not played it full-time since his sophomore campaign at Penn State.
McGovern said after the win against the Titans moving back to center was "like riding a bike again," and also said that the rest of the position room know that any of them are capable of playing any five spots if necessary. With as many hits as the offensive line has taken this season, the luxury of having that optionality has proven to be beneficial.
"Everyone in our o-line room knows all five positions luckily," McGovern said. "So, we spend time going over what each guy does, so I feel like any of us can step up. We have [Peters] coming in at left tackle, Tyler [Smith] at left guard, and I'm at center, but we practice every week. I think we'll be ready."
Those feelings from McGovern aren't without their merit, either. Smith echoed those same sentiments on Monday as well despite being moved back to guard, adding some credit for the Cowboys' coaching staff in offensive line coach Joe Philbin and assistant Jeff Blasko for having prepared them for anything.
"It's a testament to the guys in the room for sure," Smith said when asked how they have managed the adversity up front this season. "The coaches do a great job of just introducing us to the situations. We always practice them regardless of who's up that particular week.
"The guys that we have in the room are just adaptable… When Tyler [Biadasz] went down Thursday, [McGovern] moved to center and he was able to kind of do it seamlessly. That's just a testament to the work they've put in in the building and just being ready."