3 Cowboys, Including Former All-Pro, Injured in ‘Chippy’ Practice With Broncos

Tyron Smith

Getty Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith runs out on the field for an NFL game.

Everything coming out of the Dallas Cowboys‘ August 12 joint practice with the Denver Broncos has been less than ideal, including a new slate of injuries.

Dallas has already been dealing with injuries from earlier in training camp and in the previous season, with wide receivers Michael Gallup and James Washington both set to miss the beginning of the season with issues.

Now, there’s a trio of new problems to address, with defensive tackle John Ridgeway, tight end Ian Bunting and two-time All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith all being injured in some fashion on Thursday.

According to Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken, Bunting was injured during a punt return rep. Bunting did walk off the field after a medical cart arrived, but he “suffered a neck injury,” according to the team’s website. Fortunately, the results of an x-ray came back negative.

Ridgeway, the fifth-round draft pick out of Arkansas, suffered some form of leg issue during practice as well. Ridgeway did exit the field on his own power.

The Cowboys’ official writeup confirmed the Tyron Smith issue, stating that the offensive tackle was still being seen by medical staff at the time of writing.

“Tyron Smith also limped off the field towards the end of practice. The Cowboys medical team was still evaluating them all after the practice,” the site reads.

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Cowboys in Tight Spot at Tackle

The injury to Smith is something that the Cowboys don’t want to see and can’t really afford. Rookie tackle Matt Waletzko, who was expected to help in depth and as a swing tackle option, had a shoulder injury earlier in camp and is expected to have surgery, per Gehlken.

If Smith’s injury is serious, the Cowboys essentially have Josh Ball and Tyler Smith as their only options at left tackle. Smith was selected in the first round by Dallas in the 2022 NFL draft, but he has primarily taken reps at guard as the Cowboys work him into the NFL.

Essentially, left tackle is extremely thin, and the tackle group in general is thin. Ball was expected to be a backup for either side this year, but in the current situation he pretty much has to focus at left tackle instead of learning from Terence Steele at RT.

Background on Bunting and Ridgeway

Ridgeway has quickly found a niche following in Dallas, which makes sense. The defensive tackle arrives from owner Jerry Jones’ alma mater, Arkansas, and is nicknamed the “vanilla gorilla” for his strength and playstyle as a defensive tackle.

Ridgeway has had an interesting camp, showing flashes of improvement and quality but also scuffling with his own teammates before the Broncos practice ever happened.

Meanwhile, Bunting arrived in Dallas last season and is continuing to look for a permanent home. Despite being on rosters and practice squads for five other NFL teams before getting to the Cowboys, he actually made his regular season debut against the Washington Commanders last season.

Bunting getting a negative x-ray result and Ridgeway walking off on his own power are encouraging details. However, both players are looking to secure roster spots and missing time to injury doesn’t help.