He could be operated on as early as Thursday, pending a possible second opinion, a source told ESPN.
Smith was injured on a run play and went to the ground as he went to make a block on linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. He was able to walk to the locker room unaided and initial tests indicated that the ACL in his left knee was intact.
Smith was spotted leaving the locker room after practice and did not appear to be limping. left guard Connor McGovern talked to him afterwards.
“He gave me a nice reassuring grunt like he usually does,” McGovern said. “It’s the only thing that’s been playing next to him for so long, I can decipher his grunts. I think he’s fine.”
The loss of Smith, an eight-time Pro Bowler and protector of Dak Prescottblindside, creates a gaping hole on an offensive line that was already struggling with questions ahead of the 9/11 opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dallas drafted Tyler Smith in the first round to be the left tackle of the future and used him exclusively as a left guard during training camp and the first two preseason games. Smith is also struggling with an ankle injury which has kept him out of the last two practices.
The Cowboys played Josh Ball, who was selected in the fourth round last year but did not play as a rookie due to an ankle injury, at left tackle with the first team when Smith took breaks. They also wrote Matt Waltzko in the fifth round this year, but only returned to practice this week after suffering a shoulder injury for most of training camp.
Coach Mike McCarthy singled out Aviante Collins‘ plays during camp, but Collins hasn’t played in a game since 2019. He spent most of last season on the Cowboys practice squad.
The Cowboys could seek help from veterans either in free agency or on the trade market to replace Smith. Eric Fisherthe former No. 1 overall pick in 2013, is unsigned after starting 15 games last season for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Cowboys have more than $20 million in salary cap space, according to NFL Players Association figures, but a good chunk of that is expected to be directed toward the practice squad and in-season call-ups.
Dallas is already breaking a new right tackle with Terence Steele replacing La’el Collins, who was cut in the offseason. Tyler Smith and McGovern competed to be left guard, and McCarthy said McGovern would be the starter if the season started today.
Tyler Smith took snaps during organized team activities and minicamp at left tackle. He started 12 games at left tackle last season at Tulsa and nine in his redshirt freshman season in 2020. The Cowboys like his strength and makeup, but wanted him to focus on a position during training camp.
Necessity could change things with less than three weeks until the Buccaneers opener.
As for Tyron Smith, that continues a string of injuries in recent years. He hasn’t played a full season since 2015 as he suffered knee, ankle, neck and elbow injuries. He missed 14 games in 2020 due to neck surgery. He missed six games last season with an ankle injury and a move to the COVID roster.
Smith, who is the oldest Cowboy, turns 32 in December. He is signed until 2023.