SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Cowboys will be without Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant when they kick off against San Francisco on Sunday afternoon.
That's not completely surprising, given that neither Smith nor Bryant practiced this week in preparation for this Week 4 road trip. It still means Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense will be without two of their best players as they try to secure a road win against the 49ers.
The duo of Pro Bowlers are joined by Orlando Scandrick on the inactives list. Scandrick was limited in practice all week while he continues to nurse two sore hamstrings. He was also absent last week against Chicago, opening the door for rookie Anthony Brown to play slot corner in his place.
Aside from that trio of starters, the Cowboys also ruled out Tony Romo, Darius Jackson, Mark Nzeocha and La'el Collins. Romo and Collins were actually ruled out on Friday, as Romo is still recovering from the fractured vertebrae in his back, while Collins is expected to miss an extended period after suffering ligament damage in his toe last weekend.
Nzeocha is still working his way back from the strained Achilles he suffered in mid-August. Jackson is a healthy scratch for the fourth-consecutive week.
For the second consecutive week, second-year offensive tackle Chaz Green will start at left tackle in Smith's absence – which means he'll have his hands full. San Francisco pass rusher Ahmad Brooks has two sacks through three games so far this season.
Smith was a surprise addition to the inactives list last weekend, as he had back spasms during the late part of the week. He couldn't quite get past them this week, as he sat out in all three practices – working with team athletic trainers instead.
This will be only the third absence of Smith's career and the first time he has ever missed multiple games in a season.
Bryant was scratched after speculation about his injured knee throughout the week. As has been well-documented by now, Bryant missed a scheduled MRI and a team meeting earlier this week after hurting the knee in the 31-17 win against Chicago.
He finally underwent a scan on the knee on Wednesday, revealing a hairline fracture in the knee. Bryant said Friday the injury was "day-to-day," and he moved well in warmups on Sunday morning. Still, with 12 games left to play, it makes sense why the Cowboys would err on the side of caution.
With Bryant out, Brice Butler steps into one of the Cowboys' starting receiver roles. Prescott will likely be working with Butler and Terrance Williams on the outside, with Cole Beasley working in the slot.