Tyron Smith is a new — and ominous — addition to the Dallas Cowboys injury report.
The team listed the perennial Pro Bowl left tackle as a limited participant in Thursday’s practice due to an apparent neck issue. No further clarification was given and mixed reports have surfaced regarding Smith’s status for Sunday’s road contest at New England.
According to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, the 30-year-old underwent an MRI on his neck area Thursday, a procedure “described as precautionary more than anything else.”
But Bryan Broaddus of 105.3 The Fan checked in with Cowboys sources who relayed a “concern level” over Smith’s imaging.
“I’m just reaching out to some folks and they don’t know what the problem is, and so they’re doing an MRI on it right now,” Broaddus reported. “They have to see the doctor, etc., etc. … I asked for the concern level and they said, ‘it wouldn’t be a concern if we didn’t put him on the injury report.'”
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Smith Battled Neck Malady in 2020
Arguably the league’s top blindside protector missed all but two games last season with what Dallas owner/general manager characterized as a nerve issue that devolved into a nagging neck stinger, requiring corrective surgery.
“The facts are that he’s a 10-year veteran, and this surgery at this time, not after the season, but at this particular time is important for the rest of his career,” Jones said last October, per the Dallas Morning News. “And that’s paramount to the fact that he’s obviously playing because it’s nerve type sensitivity that is involved here, gets, creates — stinger type, if you remember the term of nerve in your neck and shoulder area and that’s the area we’re talking about. But the bottom line is we all agree that he should have the surgery, which will put him out for the rest of the year.”
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Dallas OL Performing at High Level
After playing much of last year without Smith, right tackle La’el Collins, and right guard Zack Martin, the Cowboys’ front-five has predictably returned to its prior, elite form — and that’s still without Collins, who’s finishing off a five-game suspension.
Entering Week 6, with the OL paving the way, Dallas’ offense ranks second in three major categories: total yards (439.6 yards per game), rushing (172.8 YPG), and scoring (34.0 points per game). This, while surrendering just nine sacks on quarterback Dak Prescott.
According to Pro Football Focus, as of this writing, Martin (92.3) is the club’s highest-graded lineman, and center Tyler Biadasz (54.8) is the lowest. Collectively, the Cowboys’ offensive line ranks No. 1 overall in the NFL.
“Even without La’el Collins, Dallas’ offensive line has vastly improved thanks in no small part to Tyron Smith returning to his best play now that he is finally healthy,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote Wednesday. “Smith boasts a 91.2 overall PFF grade, the second-best mark in the NFL. It’s the first time he has been above 90.0 since the 2015 season. Smith and Zack Martin are two of the best offensive linemen at any position in the league, and the rest of the Cowboys’ group has been solid with no real glaring weaknesses. With the unit being protected by the scheme, playcalling, quarterback and running backs, this is the best offensive line in football right now.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL