The Cowboys are 9-3, having overcome mountains of adversity in the process, and now they're about to get one of the best offensive tackles in NFL history back for a possible playoff run
FRISCO, TX — As the world waits with bated breath to see if the Dallas Cowboys and Odell Beckham, Jr. will agree to terms on a deal, there's another massive (literally) addition coming soon to team headquarters this week. Tyron Smith, the eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle and future Hall of Famer will be designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday, per owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
This will begin the clock on Smith's practice window that extends a maximum of 21 days, and that means he won't count against the active roster while the Cowboys work to ramp him up for game duty.
"Just talked to him, and he was smiling from ear to ear," said Jones following the 54-19 evisceration of the Colts in primetime. "He had a good week this week. I can't think of any single thing that could help a football team more than to have Tyron Smith come in healthy at left tackle. I really can't.
"So right there is the biggest lift that you could draw up for the Dallas Cowboys — without exception."
Jones hinted at the possibility of his four-time All-Pro taking the field when the Houston Texans come to town on Sunday, Dec. 11.
"[What Smith provides is] a lift and that will, frankly, be more impactful than anything that I could do with Beckham or anybody. That is going to be lift, yes, but keep in mind that a 21-day window doesn't mean he can't be out there next weekend."
Of course, that doesn't mean he will be.
Fact is, Smith hasn't played a single regular season snap in 2022 after suffering a knee injury devastating enough to tear his hamstring from the back of said knee, his inhuman nature on full display as he walked away from the facility after the injury without so much as a minor limp before being placed on injured reserve, where he's been ever since.
"We'll see how it goes," said head coach Mike McCarthy of Smith's chances of playing after only three official team practices this week.
To Jones' point, however, it's not the first major injury suffered by Smith as of late in his career, which means he's well-versed in hitting the ground running fairly quickly in a return from one. In the end, time will tell if you'll see Smith on the field against the Texans and/or the Jaguars, likely sooner than later as the goal will definitely be to have him at full steam (or close to it) when the first-place Philadelphia Eagles fly into AT&T Stadium on Christmas Eve.
The Cowboys don't want that to be Smith's first game back, under any circumstances, but that mission will have to be balanced with avoiding a setback that could cost him the rest of the season and, more importantly, the playoffs.
"He'll activate to where he's practicing," said Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones to 105.3FM the Fan on Monday. "When you're on IR-DTR, your first step is to go just like James Washington did last week. You won't be on the 53. He has three weeks to practice and then you make a decision — and he doesn't have to go the full three weeks.
" … We'll decide as to when he is ready to actually play in the game."
The offensive line rotation tests have already begun in preparation for the return, including Jason Peters being moved to left tackle to allow Tyler Smith a chance to reacclimate to left guard, a move that hints strongly at what the front five will look like in front of Dak Prescott when it's all said-and-done: namely Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin and Terence Steele.
For a team already atop the NFL in points per game since Prescott's return, dropping Smith (and Beckham?) into the mix can only make them that much more dangerous going forward.