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Tyler Smith Set To Return To Practice; LT Plan?


FRISCO, Texas – After dealing with a minor ankle injury last week, first-round draft pick Tyler Smith is expected to return to return to practice Monday.

"He's ready to go," Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. "Barring something unforeseen to start practice, he was a green light to start practice today."

And, although the Cowboys have yet to officially announce a left tackle replacement for eight-time Pro Bowl starter Tyron Smith (hamstring), it's clear that Tyler Smith is a candidate -- if not the leading candidate -- to line up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 11 at AT&T Stadium.

"The plan is for it to be an in-house person," Jones said, without going into specifics.

Tyron Smith recently underwent surgery to repair the hamstring tear he suffered in practice last week, and while the team is optimistic he could be able to return late in the regular season, it looks like they must proceed without him for a large chunk of the schedule.

If it's an in-house plan, then it's only logical to look at Tyler Smith, the 24th overall pick in this year's draft who was a three-year starter at left tackle at Tulsa.

Tyler Smith competed with Connor McGovern for the left guard spot in training camp but worked as a "left side player" in the offseason program, with 60% of his practice reps coming at left tackle, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said.

"We were looking for ways to get him on the field sooner and thought with Tyron coming into camp healthy – Tyron's one of the best in the business when healthy, if not the best – and that's why we were playing him (Tyler) at guard," Jones said. "But we really think his long-term future in the NFL is left tackle. That's why we drafted him in the first round to ultimately be our future left tackle."

The Cowboys are still in the process of finalizing roster cuts from 80 to 53 players before Tuesday's 3 p.m. (Central) league deadline. Although they like the young depth at offensive tackle – including Smith, fellow rookie Matt Waletzko and last year's fourth-round pick Josh Ball – Jones said they'll be on the lookout for offensive line help this week, too.

"We feel good about where we're going and what our situation looks like," Jones said. "I say it always, we're always looking to upgrade our roster and certainly we'll look to continue to make ourselves better. Certainly, the offensive line is one where we aren't necessarily loaded with depth there but something that we'll continue to look at as things come to fruition over the next two or three days as teams are going to have expose a lot of players (to waivers).

"We'll look at that and we'll look at the veterans that are out there and see if we need to beef up right there."

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