The Dallas Cowboys' recent history of playing without Tyron Smith has not gone well. Unfortunately for them, they will have to change that trend, at least in the short term, as the team will be without him for Sunday's game against the Giants.
Last year, Smith missed essentially the entire season after neck surgery, which was arguably the biggest factor in their nightmare 2020 season. The All-Pro left tackle missed two games earlier this year while dealing with a bone spur issue in his ankle. The Cowboys lost two of those games, and Terence Steele struggled to fill in at left tackle.
Now, Smith has reinjured that same left ankle, and a Monday afternoon evaluation led to the determination that he would not be available this week. The injury occurred in the second half of Sunday's game, which happened to fall on Smith's 31st birthday, when Connor McGovern fell down on Smith's leg.
"Tyron will not be available this week," Mike McCarthy stated plainly in his Monday afternoon press conference.
McCarthy confirmed that the injury was a reaggravation of the previous ankle injury that Smith dealt with earlier in the season. He was unwilling to say much more about Smith's health except to say, "I don't think it's a surgical situation."
Who exactly steps in at left tackle against the giants is something that McCarthy said is still "to be determined." He claimed that the offensive coaches discussed the possibilities in their Monday morning meeting, but that it was before they had received the news that Smith was officially ruled out. Steele filled in for Smith when he went out of the game on Sunday, and he started for Smith earlier in the year.
Throwing another wrench into the planning is the lingering potential that La'el Collins, who was ejected from Sunday's game for getting into a physical confrontation after the whistle over what he felt was a late hit of Dak Prescott, might be suspended a game by the NFL. Such a possibility would leave the Cowboys without both of their starting tackles, a reality that submarined their offense in 2020.
The two options to fill in for Smith (and potentially Collins) are Steele and Ty Nsekhe. Both were in the game at the tackle positions to finish Sunday's game against Washington, which required a final first down to seal a victory.
"We were able to finish the game," McCarthy said of his assessment of the two backup tackles. "There are always technical things you want to improve on. I thought Ty and Terence went in there and did some good things and gave us a chance to win."