IRVING, Texas – A Cowboys player younger than the team's most recent first-round pick just got finished with his first Pro Bowl season.
But left tackle Tyron Smith feels this is just the beginning for him.
"I just feel like it's not there yet," Smith said. "I feel like I've got a long way to go. You've got guys that are eight-time Pro Bowlers and things like that. I'm still at the beginning stage. I have a long way to go."
Smith's third year in the league turned out to be the best, and it was one the Cowboys hope he can build on. At just 23 years old, he's actually a month younger than this year's first-round pick, Zack Martin, and just a few months older than last year's top pick, Travis Frederick.
"I'm still a young guy, then," Smith said with a grin.
Yet Smith's already putting together Pro Bowl seasons, and he's far from the normal 23-year-old NFL player.
He's already got three years under his belt and has only missed one game during that span. Aside from Doug Free, he's got more experience on the Dallas line than any player, so age doesn't tell his whole story. Players look up to Smith for guidance as they would any reliable veteran. [embedded_ad]
"Just as far as some of the younger guys, I'm trying to help as much as I can – the same things the older guys taught me it was helpful when I came in," Smith said.
Smith struggled to deal with DeMarcus Ware during training camp last year, but his adjustment to left tackle included few errors during the regular season.
He excelled at the position in 2014, keeping nearly every defensive end he saw in check. Both Jared Allen and Julius Peppers finished with just one tackle apiece against the Cowboys. The Rams' Robert Quinn, who had 19 sacks last season, didn't have any against Dallas.
The Cowboys hope and believe those performances will only be built upon in the coming years. They picked up Smith's fifth-year option, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them get an extension worked out in the coming year.
Right now, though, Smith said he's not thinking beyond this year.
"I'm happy they picked up my fifth year and just glad I get to stay in Dallas," Smith said. "I love it out here and it's a great town. The fans are great, too."
On the OL – We're just kind of trying to work together as a unit and getting closer and closer every year. It's just all about us bonding together and everybody being on the same page.