Cowboys Issue Final Verdict on Tyron Smith Surgery, 2020 Status

Tyron Smith

Getty Tyron Smith

After gathering medical opinions on his long bothersome neck, Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith will undergo season-ending surgery, head coach Mike McCarthy announced Friday.

“This is a correctable situation. He obviously will not be available the rest of the season,” McCarthy said, per the team’s official website. “That’s something that’s been determined and I think clearly the focus is on him personally.

“My understanding is it’s something that he’s been dealing with for some time. I’ve been told that it’s a correctable surgery, that if he doesn’t have the surgery he just would continue to deal with this in a manner of how this season has gone. This is something that needs to be done.”

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NFL Network first reported Thursday that surgery was a possibility for Smith, who missed Week 2 and Week 3 before returning last Sunday against the Browns. He appeared no worse for wear, logging all 82 offensive snaps amid the 49-38 defeat, but reportedly suffered a setback that now requires a reparative procedure.

The seven-time Pro Bowler entered 2020, his age-29 campaign, in his usual role as the linchpin of the Cowboys’ stellar offensive line. But, according to his peers, he hasn’t looked quite like the Tyron Smith of old. The proverbial hitch in his giddup was so glaring that opponents started game-planning around it.

“That is something we noticed on film is that he’s been dealing with an injury,” said Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams (via Newsday), whom the Cowboys will face Sunday at AT&T Stadium. “You can kind of see it in film, so we were looking to get after that.”

Smith, signed to an eight-year, $97 million extension, is under contract through 2024. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2015, plagued by repeated neck, back, and knee issues. Barring an additional setback, however, he will be healed in time to participate in the club’s offseason program beginning next April.

“Tyron has done any and everything he possibly can do to play. The facts are, he’s a 10-year veteran. Surgery at this time is important for the rest of his career,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan.

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Replacing Smith

With right tackle La’el Collins (hip) similarly done for the year and swing OT Cameron Erving (knee) working back from injured reserve, potential OL configurations are fairly limited. The most logical scenario has Brandon Knight manning LT and Terence Steele at RT, though Jones cracked the door for Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin to slide outside in Collins’ stead.

“We have a lot of options,” he said on 105.3 The Fan. “We have a lot of guys that are truly gonna have to step up. They’re gonna have to play above what we expected of them this year. They’re gonna have to step up sooner or step up better than we expected this year.”

Dallas also has veteran OT Jordan Mills on the practice squad and recently plucked OT Greg Senat off the Cleveland Browns’ taxi squad. It’s likely that either Senat or Mills will be active in Week 5 against the New York Giants.

“We’re always going to try to put our best players out there that we think are ready for the challenge,” McCarthy said, via ESPN. “It’s not as much as to what’s the personnel grade or the perception of where they rank. There’s a lot that goes into this. You have eight offensive linemen that play. Obviously you want to have the five that play with the highest level of cohesiveness and connection and communication, so that’s something you continue to work on. … It’s important to try to get to a five that can build that consistency because it’s so important at the offensive line unit to have the same five working together every single day.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL