FRISCO, Texas – Over the last five years, there hasn't been a player who has been more dominant, and yet consistent than Tyron Smith.
A perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, Smith has not only become one of the NFL's best left tackles, but he has rarely shown any sign of weakness, especially when he's healthy.
However, this season has been more of a struggle for Smith, at least to the untrained eye, which has seen a few more sacks allowed and some penalties. But according to his veteran offensive line coach, Smith is playing at a very high level.
"Through seven games, the grades I've given him have been pretty darn great," said O-line coach Paul Alexander, who is in his first season with the Cowboys and admitted he doesn't have previous years to compare to. "I wasn't here before. I didn't really know him on a day-to-day basis, analyzing completely everything. I know the grades I've given him have been pretty good."
Alexander, who coached the Bengals for 27 seasons before joining Dallas this offseason, said Smith's performance in games starts long before they hit the field on Sunday.
"He's a joy to coach. He works as hard as any guy there is," Alexander said of Smith. "He's tough. No one wants to go against him in individual drills. He put a guy on IR in a walkthrough a couple of years ago. I've really enjoyed coaching him. I don't know anything other than that."
Smith has made five straight Pro Bowls, but has missed three games in each of the past two seasons for various injuries to his back, neck and knee. While the Cowboys have listed him on the injury report here recently with an ankle injury, for the most part injuries haven't been a big issue for him this season.
Alexander said the entire offensive line has seen its share of problems, but is encouraged with the progress.
"Some things we're doing very well. I see growth every day," Alexander said. "We're replacing the best center in football and putting in a rookie left guard. The bottom-line answer is there are a million things to work through. But I like what I've seen through seven games."