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Tyron Smith injury: The Dallas Cowboys are in serious trouble – For The Win

There’s only one loss capable of derailing the Dallas Cowboys’ season more than a Dak Prescott injury; a Tyron Smith injury. And on Wednesday, the All-Pro left tackle and Prescott’s blindside protector went down hard.
Smith limped off the practice field with what originally looked like a hamstring strain. It was soon discovered to be much worse. The 31-year-old offensive lineman, an eight-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL’s All-2010s team, pulled his hamstring tendon from the bone. He’ll miss the bulk of 2022 and could sit the entire season depending on how the fracture that caused the tear heals this fall.
#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. If he’s back at all, it’ll be December. A tough loss.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 25, 2022

This is horrible news, but one the Cowboys could have planned for by beefing up their offensive line depth. Losing linemen isn’t foreign to this team; in recent years Dallas has lost key blockers like La’el Collins and Travis Frederick for extended stretches. Given the importance of Dak Prescott’s passing game, keeping him upright in case of emergency should have been a priority.
It was not. Now the Cowboys are in real trouble.
Dallas already faced one questionable link at right tackle with former undrafted free agent Terence Steele, who has vacillated between below-average and promising (but is growing!) in Collins’ old spot. Smith’s absence means promoting recent Day 3 draft picks Josh Ball (fourth round, 2021) or Matt Waletzko (fifth round, 2022). Neither has played a regular season NFL snap.
Adding either to the starting lineup in place of one of Dallas’ binary blocking stars is a massive blow. Dak Prescott is likely to see his sack rate rise for the third straight season. While Zach Martin remains great, it’s reasonable to question all four of the guys surrounding him.
This is a concern. Prescott was great in 2021 but buoyed by the league’s sixth-lowest pressure rate. While he can throw through static — he was a Pro Bowler in 2018 despite the league’s seventh-worst pressure rate — he’s obviously better with a clean pocket than a messy one.
There were a handful of useful swing tackles available in free agency this offseason who could have assuaged this concern. Veterans like Morgan Moses, Jesse Davis, Chris Hubbard and Billy Turner all signed deals that paid less than $5 million annually this offseason. Tackles like Bernhard Raimann, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Abe Lucas were all available when Dallas made its second round pick in April.
But the Cowboys had needs elsewhere and weren’t in a position to spend. Thanks to Jerry Jones’ lavish contracts for star players — including $30 million left in guaranteed cash for Ezekiel Elliott, who may not be the team’s top back in 2022 and whose livelihood depends heavily on his offensive line — Dallas had to trade away Amari Cooper for peanuts (wide receiver depth is another problem!) and was mostly quiet in free agency. The franchise’s biggest new acquisition was Dante Fowler, who makes only $3 million annually.
Dallas has $21 million left to spend in 2022, but its options in a picked-over marketplace are limited. The Cowboys are likely looking at veterans like Daryl Williams, Brian Bulaga, Marcus Cannon or Eric Fisher at this point in free agency — all moderately recognizable names and successful players whose best years are clearly behind them. Worse yet, whomever gets the call will have to learn on the fly with the start of the regular season only two weeks away.
The Cowboys could have insulated themselves from disaster by acquiring depth. Instead, Jones stuck with his plan of rewarding superstars, leaving little space to build healthy reserves and hoping a top-heavy lineup doesn’t topple over.
Losing Smith qualifies as toppling. His 2020 injury pushed Brandon Knight into the starting lineup and, combined with Prescott’s own season-ending injury, led to a disastrous 6-10 record. His absence will ripple through the constellation of stars upon which Dallas relies.
Prescott, Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, Tony Pollard; all these guys get a little bit worse without their All-Pro blindside protector in the lineup. That makes the line between success and disaster a little thinner. In the NFC East, where there hasn’t been a repeat champion since 2004, the rest of the division is salivating.
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Pugh’s gesture for a teammate was quite classy.
The Las Vegas Raiders will meet the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5 of NFL action on Monday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Raiders are coming off their first win of the season after knocking off the Broncos in a 32-23 showdown last week. Derek Carr and company will be looking to make it two straight against a tough squad in Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Chiefs picked up their 3rd win of the season after taking down the Buccaneers 41-31 and will be looking to Patrick Mahomes to show some of his magic tonight to get their fourth win.
Whoever thought this was a good idea should rethink everything.
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
Articles: 10152

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