The Dallas Cowboys are working through their 2020 training camp with mostly good health and full participation across the board. The one position that seems to be having all of the issues is offensive tackle, and this continues a concerning trend that the team has had the last few seasons.
Locked-in starters Tyron Smith and La’el Collins have both had their health problems in recent years. Smith has missed three games every year since 2016 and Collins missed one whole game and most of another in 2019.
Those issues are showing up even in these early days of camp. Tyron has had to miss some practice time with a “minor” hamstring problem. Collins started camp on the sidelines with conditioning issues and also had a minor car accident last week.
As of this morning both starters are not currently participating in practice due to these issues. Their absences are not considered serious based on comments from the team, but still they’re not out there.
If having the starters out wasn’t enough, projected swing tackle Cameron Erving just made his practice debut this morning after dealing with his own personal health issue. Even Brandon Knight, a backup last year and contender for a roster spot in 2020, was missing for the first few days of practice.
These absences have pushed prospects like Mitch Hyatt, Wyatt Miller, and Terence Steele into extended duty over the last few weeks. And no, extra practice reps for these developing players isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But no matter how much work these guys get in August, Dallas will be in trouble if any of them are playing meaningful snaps come September.
Everyone is saying the right things now about Tyron, La’el, and the key players at offensive tackle. All injuries and issues are “minor” and everyone is expected to be ready for Week One. But that game is little less than three weeks away now, and having issues with both starting tackles and their primary backup is a legitimately worrisome.
It’s been almost three years but I’m still haunted by the Chaz Green Game against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. And while I trust that an older and wiser Dak Prescott, plus Kellen Moore and Mike McCarthy, would handle that issue better now than was done three years ago, it’s still cause for pause.
Until they prove otherwise, the Dallas Cowboys have been a team whose fortunes dance on a tightrope. The margin between contention and implosion, making the playoffs or missing them, has been very slim for a long time.
The thought Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, or perhaps both being out of a game in 2020 should make you queasy. That one game could easily be what swings the season.
That’s why I can’t just accept that these missed practices aren’t a big deal. They may prove to be in the long run, but until then they’re red flags of what could be a greater problem with major implications for the Cowboys this year.