This has to be a joyous sight for the Dallas Cowboys. Tyron Smith has returned to the practice field during OTAs after missing 14 games in 2020 due to a neck issue. As Smith enters his 11th season in the NFL, health is more important than ever after so much wear and tear on his body.
Smith has made seven Pro Bowls and has been named an All-Pro four times throughout his career. However, even with those impressive accolades, and still being one of the best left tackles in the NFL when healthy, Smith feels he still has something to prove.
“For me – I always say this every year, but it's true. I'm still not at the point where I want to be,” Smith said, via the team's website. “Every year it's like I'm still trying to prove to everybody that I can still play and still be the best at my job. For me, it's always that mindset. There's always something to prove.”
The injury report is a place Smith has gotten all too familiar with. He missed three games each season from 2016 to 2019 after starting 79 out of a possible 80 games in his first five seasons. A lot of that time away from the field has been attributed to back issues, and Smith feels fixing his neck will aid in that being a thing of the past.
“Honestly feeling great, finally got the neck fixed, and I think that kind of connected to everything with the back,” Smith said. “I'm glad I finally got it fixed after all these years.”
Smith may have a decade of experience under his belt but at 30 years of age, he's still a very young man and potentially has a lot of football still ahead of him, if he can stay healthy. He has aspirations of playing a lot longer so the time was now to fix what he needed to.
“It just was about being smart about it, and if I want to keep playing longer then I'd have to get the surgery,” he said. “And I do want to keep playing as long as I can. So it was a good thing to get the surgery done, so I don't have to worry about that anymore.”
The loss of Smith and La'el Collins (missed the entire season after hip surgery) caused a mess on the offensive line with different lineups which didn't allow any continuity. Watching several different quarterbacks for the Cowboys run for their lives at times last season had Smith on the edge of his seat to get back on the battlefield.
“It drove me crazy because I couldn't be out there with my teammates, helping out,” Smith said. “And I couldn't really be in the building as much as I wanted to, because of my neck.”
Smith's dedication to getting back to the field had a rough start seeing as his surgery kept him from being able to rehab for a month. However, his gradual improvement has worked wonders.
“I mean my strength is back – or probably better than it was, since I've just been sitting here working out,” Smith said.
Prescott is looking to validate his mega-deal and Ezekiel Elliott will be focused on bouncing back from the worst year of his career. Smith being healthy will go a long way in making that a reality.