FRISCO, Texas - While the majority of the talk surrounding a potential addition to the Cowboys' roster this week has swarmed around free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr and the subsequent frenzy, there is another impactful addition that they are sure to make soon.
With his 21-day practice window opened on Wednesday, All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith practiced for the first time while the clock starts as to when he will make his season debut after suffering a knee injury during the last week of training camp that sidelined him for the last four months.
"He's looking good," rookie Tyler Smith said. "Having him back it's going to bring nothing but strength to this team. When he went down at the beginning it was unfortunate. But just seeing where he's out now I have the utmost confidence that he's going to be back and better than ever."
"He looked really good today," Ezekiel Elliott said. "He's out there striking guys. I feel bad for those [defensive] ends he was going against. I'm sure they are going to have some bruises on their chests tonight… He looks in shape. Looks darn good."
It's certainly not a shock to hear that Smith, an absolute specimen at 6'5 and 320 pounds, is in shape. But what was clear from both Elliott and the younger Smith was that their Stallworth tackle looked to be back and better than ever.
Whether or not that means he will play against the Texans this Sunday has yet to be determined, but it shouldn't be ruled out either. Nevertheless, whenever Smith does make his return, he will not be returning to the same offensive line he last worked with some four months ago.
Though there was understandable concern in August about how the Cowboys' offensive line would survive without Smith, it quickly has become a bright spot as the season has worn on. Want proof? The Cowboys rank seventh in the league in total rushing yards. Need a little more? They have allowed just 15 sacks this season through 12 games - good for the fewest in the NFL.
One of the biggest unknowns heading into the season was rookie first-rounder Smith. Originally slated to move off his natural position of left tackle to left guard in deference to the future Hall of Famer, Smith was bounced back out to tackle and has exceeded expectations by all measures.
Now with the elder Smith's return all but imminent, the Cowboys are faced with how they want to reshuffle the rotation between the two Smiths and guard Connor McGovern. Should they choose to have the rookie Smith slide back inside to guard to make room for the veteran, he feels confident that he could make the transition again after playing some guard this season already.
"It definitely helped me in terms of versatility," Smith said of his experience at both positions. "It's a high-stress situation when you're switching throughout the game. And just to be able to do that it just builds confidence."
It'll be a juggling act the rest of the way for the Cowboys to sort out just how they want to make all of their offensive line pieces fit, but then again, it's a first-world problem now given the vast amount of uncertainty they faced there just a few months ago.
And while the Cowboys, from owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, have all been rather noncommittal about when exactly Smith will make his season debut, there is more clarity on one thing - he will play left tackle when he returns.
Everybody else will have to get in where they fit in.