The Dallas Cowboys are bracing to be without left tackle Tyron Smith for multiple months after the star sustained a torn left hamstring during an August 24 practice, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota. Rookie Tyler Smith was selected to be the team’s future franchise left tackle but has been primarily taking snaps at guard during training camp. The newest Cowboys offensive lineman is also dealing with an ankle injury.
“While trying to block linebacker Leighton Vander Esch during a team drill period at Wednesday’s practice inside the Ford Center, Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith went to the ground and immediately grabbed his left leg in obvious pain,” Machota wrote on August 25, 2022.
“Smith then walked to the locker room with members of the team’s medical staff and did not return to practice. He left the practice facility under his own power and did not appear to have difficulty walking. But further medical testing showed that the eight-time Pro Bowler suffered a torn left hamstring that could cause him to miss multiple months, ESPN reported late Wednesday night.”
Here is a look at the play where Smith sustained the hamstring injury.
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Who Will Replace Smith at Left Tackle?
The Cowboys may be forced to do some shuffling to the offensive line in order to find a suitable replacement for Smith. Dallas could slide the rookie over to left tackle but this would be a short turnaround time to switch positions in time for Week 1. This reality is magnified given Smith is sidelined with an ankle injury. Rookie Matt Waletzko and Aviante Collins are currently listed behind the eight-time Pro Bowler on the left tackle depth chart.
Two candidates to slide into the starting lineup are Connor McGovern, who has primarily been utilized at guard, along with Josh Ball whose natural position is right tackle. During an August 24 press conference, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy praised Ball’s development noting he has been “growing each week.”
“I think Josh Ball, he’s growing each week,” McCarthy detailed. “He’s a great example of someone that just needs the reps. I think he’s benefited not only from the joint practices but the high quality reps that he’s had in the first two preseason games.
“A.C. [Aviante Collins] has done a done a heck of a job, too. Those guys have been out there playing. That’s why it’s good to get Matt [Waletzko] out there. But yeah, it’s young guys that are growing.”
What Is Smith’s Future With the Cowboys?
Smith remains one of the premier NFL left tackles but has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. The Cowboys star played in a combined 13 games over the last two seasons. Smith has missed at least three games for six straight seasons, a streak that unfortunately is likely to continue in 2022.
The Cowboys left tackle still has two seasons remaining on his eight-year, $97.6 million contract. Dallas could move off of Smith’s $13.6 million salary for 2023 by releasing the veteran next offseason, but the Cowboys would still have to take an $8 million cap hit.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Smith’s injury will require surgery and the soonest the left tackle could return is December. All signs point to Dallas preparing to play the majority of their season without their franchise left tackle.
“Cowboys standout LT Tyron Smith actually suffered an avulsion fracture of the knee, meaning the hamstring tendon that sits at the back of the knee pulled off the bone and he needs surgery, sources say,” Rapoport tweeted on August 25. “If he’s back at all, it’ll be December. A tough loss.”