Dallas Cowboys: The Fallout of LT Tyron Smith's Injury

The Dallas Cowboys suffered a devastating blow Thursday as star left tackle Tyron Smith will be out until at least December following a torn left hamstring.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the official diagnosis was an “avulsion fracture of the knee,” meaning Smith’s hamstring tendon was completely torn off the bone.

The 31-year-old is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday.

Smith’s injury occurred in Wednesday’s practice while attempting to make a block on linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Smith fell to the ground in obvious pain before walking back to the locker room unassisted.

“It’s a big disappointment, none more so than for Tyron himself,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “Immediately, that battle cry is ‘let’s get it done early in the season,’ because when Tyron gets back, we’ll be that much stronger…We want it pushed up there where we’re in the lead. When we get there healthy, we can make that run in the playoffs. This doesn’t diminish that hope.”

Injuries have been Smith’s Achilles heel in recent years. The eight-time Pro Bowler has missed 20 games the past two seasons and has failed to play more than 13 contests since the 2015 campaign. That said, when healthy, Smith remains one of the NFL’s pre-eminent blindside protectors, earning a Pro Football Focus grade of 90.2 this past season, second only to San Francisco’s Trent Williams.

Who Will Replace Tyron Smith?

Despite their initial preference to bring him along slowly, the Cowboys likely have no choice but to turn to 2022 first-rounder Tyler Smith, a sentiment shared by Jones on Thursday:

“Hello, Tyler Smith,” said Jones. “He’ll be an important part of this puzzle, our No. 1 draft pick…We’ll put some people in the fire that will get reps that we haven’t planned on. That’s the secret to the offensive line, is to have the reps, get the repetition. It is that kind of position. It’s going to give some people some reps. We’ve got to figure out a way for our skill players to take up the slack and that defense to take the slack up.”

A left tackle in college, Smith, has been manning the left guard position throughout training camp. Described by many analysts as “raw” heading into the draft, the former Tulsa standout will now revert to his natural position, and with that comes the pressure of protecting quarterback Dak Prescott’s blindside. How the 21-year-old performs could be a deciding factor in Dallas finding success this season.

What is the Impact of Smith’s Absence?

While the Cowboys have become accustomed to playing games without Smith, his impact on the offense is eye-opening. Here are some noteworthy stats courtesy of ESPN:

Statistical Category

Smith On the Field

Smith Off the Field

Yards/Rush

4.8

4.1

Yards/Pass Att.

7.8

7.1

Sack%

4.2

6.2

As the numbers demonstrate, Smith’s presence cannot be overstated. Thus, his absence will be felt both in run blocking and pass protection. Should a similar impact be felt in 2022, one can expect this to carry negative implications for Dallas’ offense and skill position players from a fantasy perspective.