FRISCO, Texas - Tyler Smith is no stranger to having a lot asked of him after wrapping up his first full season with the Cowboys after being their first-round selection back in 2022. Initially he was slated to play the left guard spot but was moved back out to his natural tackle spot following Tyron Smith's injury that sidelined him most of the year.
Fast forward to almost a year later, he's right back in that same situation as the team looks to begin to sort out what their offensive line unit will look like with Terence Steele also still on the mend from an ACL tear.
Though he's much more prepared for whatever is thrown at him this time around.
"I definitely do," Smith said about being more mentally prepared. "Just being thrown in the fire last year and being able to have to make those quick changes week to week just help me now in practice to be ready for that."
"The communication has been great. I wasn't blindsided or anything. Coach kind of told me what the plan was, so just being on top of it and on top of the scheme changes that go into left guard to left tackle - I think it'll be good for me in the long run like it was last year."
And so, the Cowboys opened up minicamp on Tuesday with head coach Mike McCarthy making clear ahead of time that the elder Smith would be back at left tackle, with the younger Smith at left guard to start. Fortunately, Tyler Smith has few concerns about the move after working their last season.
"Luckily just having those reps last year, it's nothing new," Smith said. "I think it's good for just staying sharp and having the best five out there. That's really the point of emphasis right now is to make sure we have those best five.
"It's definitely like riding a bike. It's like those mountain bikes where you have to switch gears sometimes. So just staying sharp on the footwork is the biggest thing, at guard you have to have quicker hands and quicker with your feet. So just refining those little details.
Of course, this was the plan the Cowboys and Smith were moving forward with this time a year ago before things were forced to change. With that in mind Smith acknowledged that while this might not be a long-term plan for him and that things are always subject to change.
"I can't tell you for sure," Smith said when asked if he thought the move would be long-term. "I definitely think they're just trying to keep things sharp and just keep those best five out there. We're constantly working on combinations like Tyron moving to left and Tyron moving to right, but we're just working different combinations right now."
Smith showed just how well he was suited to adapting on the run as a rookie, giving veterans like right guard Zack Martin all the confidence in the world that Smith is more than capable of adjusting yet again as he gears up for Year 2.
"He just looks a lot more comfortable out there," Martin said of Smith. "I think the games probably slowed down a little bit for him. That just comes from playing and he's got a full season under his belt. I know he wants to make that jump and I'm excited to see it."
There is still plenty of runway left before the Cowboys depart for Oxnard, Calif next month for training camp, so there will be more than enough deliberation to be had on what the best path forward is. Regardless of the outcome, Smith is willing to play wherever - even if it means deferring to the elder Smith.
"We all know Tyron is a Hall of Fame left tackle," Smith said. "It's no secret. I don't know what he prefers, but he's been playing left tackle for 12 or 13 years so he's really elite at that position. We're just trying to get those best five on the field. Whatever we can do to get that, I'm down for that."