Inside Tyron Smith's Quest To Stay Healthy


OXNARD, Calif. – Tyron Smith would prefer that his presence prove the point.

If that wasn't obvious already, it becomes clear when Smith is asked how he's feeling heading into this 2018 season.

"I'm good. Great," he said.

For nearly a decade, this has been the case. The Cowboys' enormous offensive tackle has manned his position on the left side, stifling defenders – and reporters -- in stony silence. He has racked up five Pro Bowl appearances and four All-Pro selections while hardly uttering a word.

That's what made Wednesday evening's practice so unique, as Smith found himself in uncharted territory – answering questions.

It's understandable.

Smith's play hasn't left a lot of room for questions over the years, except for the all-important category of injuries. After all, 2017 marked the second-straight season in which the 27-year-old has missed time.

And it was last season's absences that were so catastrophic, as the Cowboys' offensive line basically fell apart during the month of November, when Smith was either unavailable or severely limited for four games.

"It was frustrating. It's hard to maintain something like that, and you never how it's going to go," he said. "The only thing you can do is listen to the trainers and try to follow the treatment."

By the time the Cowboys concluded their 9-7 season, Smith was dealing with problems in his back, groin, knee and shoulder. It's no wonder that, shortly after the season ended, Smith was back in his home state of California, working on his recovery.

"I got an early jump on everything," he said. "I was out in Newport training at ProActive. I felt like I needed an early jump on everything."

It sounds like no stone was left unturned in Smith's quest to get himself right. To hear it from Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, it was the left tackle who found the team's current yoga instructor, who is helping the Cowboys with their form and flexibility during training camp.

"Anything that helps," Smith said.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, whether or not it helps could be a big key to the Cowboys' season – not that they want to leave it to chance. The front office signed an experienced starter in Cam Fleming during free agency, and the coaching staff is being sure to get him up to speed.

Fleming is the offense's clear-cut third tackle, but it goes beyond that. In an effort to keep their All-Pro fresh, the Cowboys are sure to give Smith a balanced regimen of veteran's days, allowing him a chance to rest his body. Even when Smith does practice, it hasn't been unusual to see the Cowboys rotate their tackles, giving Fleming a chance to play with the first-team while Smith looks on.

"I think that's all driven by where Tyron is, what his status is," Garrett said. "Whether he's taking a day off of practice or whether we're limiting his reps in practice, Cam's the next guy right now and he's getting those opportunities."

Whether it's intentional or not, that can only be a positive for an offensive line that did not cope well when Smith went down last fall. For his part, Smith said he doesn't need the time off – but he understands the thought process.

"They're pretty much taking care of me. They don't really need to, but they feel like they need to," he said. "I'm going along with the plan they have for me, and I'm coming out here to work as much as I can."

To this point in camp, that work has looked awfully familiar – dominant play, without much in the way of sound bites to accompany it. Even when he faced reporters, it was what might be expected. Smith gave one of the longest interviews of his Cowboys career on Wednesday evening. It lasted roughly five minutes.

For a guy who prefers to talk with his play, that was plenty. And if Smith can stay healthy in 2018, it looks likely that his play will once again do the talking for him.