I saw Tyron Smith was held out of Wednesday's practice with back issues. Do you know what options are currently available for tackle depth on the free agent market? I understand we have some talented young guys, but I'd get a vet in quickly if possible. — ROB CAGLEY / SHREVEPORT, LA
Nick: I disagree with that premise. I get the anxiety you might have in late May about that but it's still early. I could be wrong, but the talent that's there right now probably won't be much different if they wait until closer to the season. In fact, there could be more options out there after the cuts. But they've got to throw Waletzko and Ball to the fire and let them get better. That's the only way they're going to have strong progress. Now, I would be working Tyler Smith occasionally out at tackle, assuming that Connor McGovern at guard might be better than one of the backup tackles if they had to go that route.
David: I don't think they will right now, for whatever that's worth. I think the goal for the time being is to get Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko as much work as possible in the hopes that they can develop in a hurry. If they get through the offseason program and don't like what they see, maybe they'll consider signing a veteran before they head to training camp.
Following up on the swing tackle piece on the site last week, can you see a case for there being a more specialized backup tackle for each side of the offensive line — say Matt Waletzko and Josh Ball — rather than just a "swing tackle," given what's occurred with injuries in the last couple of seasons? Would it be feasible to carry nine offensive lineman on the roster? — RICHIE BARNES / AUSTIN, TX
Nick: That's a nice idea, but can either of them play guard? You have to ask that because taking 9 linemen to the game could be tricky? Unless, someone like McGovern can be the backup guard and center, then it's possible to take him and both tackles to the game. That just seems like too much. At the end of the day, I could see Waletzko and Ball working on their respective sides, but the Cowboys will probably make a decision every week on which one will be active.
David: That's a really good point, and it wouldn't surprise me at all. They did it last year, to some extent, as they used both Terence Steele and Ty Nsekhe in different spots depending on the circumstances. They can absolutely carry nine offensive linemen if they want to, and Tyron Smith's injury history might make it necessary.