FRISCO, Texas – For the last six years, Tyron Smith has missed at least three games because of injury.
This season, it's probably going to be a lot more than that.
Smith suffered a severe hamstring/knee injury in the middle of Wednesday's night practice at Ford Center and the injury could keep him out multiple weeks, if not the majority of the season.
The left tackle suffered the injury on a running play in which he went five yards down the field and tried to block linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Smith slightly shoved him before his legs buckled and he went down to the ground. Moments later, he was able to walk off and then was seen leaving the locker room without any braces or sleeves on his legs and had no noticeable limp.
The Cowboys have not made an official announcement regarding the injury, but Smith is expected to need surgery on his hamstring. Smith likely will go to injured reserve next week when the roster is trimmed down to 53 players. Smith will have to be on the roster for at least one day, before being moved to IR, if the Cowboys indeed have intentions of bringing him back at some point in the season.
That indeed appears to be the case. Speaking Thursday on ESPN's First Take, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones called Smith's injury "a setback" and said the team is still gathering details on it, but indicated that the eight-time Pro Bowler will be able to be return this season.
"We'll have him at the right time," Jones said. "We'll have him in that San Francisco (playoff) game, or the equivalent of it, that we had last year, and maybe we won't fall short."
Smith hasn't played a full season since the 2015 season. He's missed at least three games every year, including six last season and 14 in 2020. Smith still managed to make his eighth Pro Bowl season last year, despite playing 11 games.
The Cowboys now must figure out their plan at left tackle. Whatever option they've got on the current roster doesn't come with much experience.
The team drafted Tyler Smith, who played left tackle at Tulsa. The plan was to move him inside to play left guard this year, but so far, he hasn't taken the job away from Connor McGovern. Tyler Smith has dealt with a minor ankle injury this week and hasn't practiced. He did get some left tackle reps this summer but has played mostly guard in training camp and the preseason.
The Cowboys could swing Terence Steele back to the left side from his right tackle position. Also, youngsters Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko could be in the mix as well.
"We've got some good options here," Jones said. "We've got a team around him. We've got a defense that's probably as strong as we've had in a lot of years. So we've got a lot of ways not to make up for not having him, but to go on without him."
Look for the Cowboys to also explore options outside of the building and add a veteran tackle, especially if Tyron Smith is expected to miss the majority of the season. Adding a veteran tackle before the season began was a possibility even before Tyron Smith's injury and now it might be a necessity.