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Tyron Smith’s Future Health Creates Red Flags Along Cowboys OL

Brian Martin



Life without your starting left tackle isn't something an NFL team wants to go through at any point in the season. The Dallas Cowboys know this all too well after having to play the last two games without their All-Pro LT Tyron Smith.

The left tackle is arguably the most important position for any team, with the exception of quarterback. The LT is responsible for protecting the blindside of the QB and keeping them upright and healthy. That is why they are drafted so highly and are some of the top paid players in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys of course have arguably the best blindside protector in the NFL, which makes replacing him even that much more difficult. Tyron Smith has had to miss the last two games due to injuries and it is increasingly obvious just how important he is to have in the lineup.

Despite having two other All-Pro offensive lineman, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line really struggled against the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles without Tyron Smith in the lineup. They couldn't get the running game going in either contest and Dak Prescott was forced to run for his life.

QB Dak PrescottNow, Tyron Smith will recover from the soft-tissue problems he's been having these last few weeks, but prior to these issues he was fighting through back problem that caused him to miss practice time this season. This is the same back issue he had last season causing him to miss games, which puts his future health in question and raises a few red flags for the entire Cowboys offensive line.

How many players around the NFL have we seen forced into early retirement because of their back problems. Tony Romo is the latest Cowboys player, but if Tyron Smith can't find a solution to his reoccurring back problems, he could join his former QB.

This is something that the Dallas Cowboys staff really should be concerned about. This team doesn't have someone who can step in for Tyron Smith and it's never been as obvious as it is now based on the last two games.

Unfortunately, starting caliber left tackles don't grow on trees. They are extremely difficult to to find, which is why they are drafted so highly and paid so extravagantly. That is why I believe the best solution is to go ahead and draft a starting caliber tackle capable playing on the either side, much like Tyron Smith did early in his career.

LT Tyron SmithYou see, drafting another tackle could solve all the problems with the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. The weak link on the Cowboys OL right now is the left guard position, but I think that gets solved by drafting a versatile tackle as well.

The first thing I would do is kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard. I think this is his best position, even though he has performed really well at right tackle this year. I would then insert the newly versatile tackle on the right side. This solidifies and upgrades the entire OL for the Cowboys.

Of course, having another versatile tackle capable of playing on either side provides insurance in case Tyron Smith continues to have reoccurring injuries. The Cowboys could always move the new rookie to the left side and Collins back to RT.

I understand that is a lot of shuffling, but with so many versatile linemen at the Cowboys disposal, they are more than capable of making these kind of moves. It's not the ideal way to handle things, but it's better than the options the Cowboys currently have.

Do you think Tyron Smith's future health is a concern?

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • Bill_In_NC

    I haven’t heard anything about what the problem actually is with Tyron’s back. It’s hard to imagine that off season surgery (like Demarcus Lawrence) would not be an option. I don’t know of too many back issues that just ‘get better’ on their own.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m not sure exactly what the problem is either. But one thing is for sure, the need to try some way to get it fixed.

  • Albert Smith

    Off-season surgery should’ve been done a couple of years ago therapy isn’t working, get it taken care of so that it’s no longer an issue.

    • Brian Martin

      It depends on what the actual problem is. Surgery could make it worse and it could just be a tolerance thing. I don’t know for sure, but something likely needs to be done.

      • Albert Smith

        He either has lumbar a strain or a lumbar spine arthritis which are the main contributors for back stiffness. That’s been the issue he’s been dealing with, so it would be a lot better to really be shut down for an elongated period of time meaning more than a couple of weeks or every Wednesday that doesn’t seem to be working and considering how things are looking you might want to bring up Kellen Moore up and shut down your key guys have a another good draft and move forward from there.

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t see the Cowboys throwing in the towel and sitting there starters. I think they will continue to fight, even if there is an much hope of reaching the playoffs.

      • Brady101

        I understand it’s a severe pinched nerve which runs that numbs his foot and toes..

        • Brian Martin

          There are a lot of conflicting reports about Smith’s injury. I honestly don’t know what the truth is. Hopefully it’s just a matter of rest and he can get back to 100%

  • Randy Martin

    While I have been doing mocks drafts for a month or more I don’t know how many “can’t miss” LT’s there are in this draft. The two biggest names Connor Williams, Texas and Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame seem to be the most highly touted but as you know, LT is a building block, and depending on draft position, they could be gone. I think we have two other pressing needs in LB and WR so I think our 1st rounder needs to be spent on one of those positions. Of course, it kind of depends on what we do with Lawrence and Irving. It’s a good thing we have 11 draft picks as we need as many chances as possible to plug the dam!

    • Brian Martin

      You’re right that LB and WR are probably higher priorities. But, I think LG and possibly T aren’t far behind. The tackle position is only a concern if Smith’s back issues are cleared up. I’m really starting to look forward to the draft already. I think I enjoy that more than the actual season LOL

    • Albert Smith

      The tackle class is much more thinner than last years draft class, more depth at guard.

      • Brian Martin

        That’s what I’m hearing. I haven’t started studying players yet for next year’s draft.

  • TreFKennedy88

    Tyron’s back has been an issue since 2015-16 season, it should have been taken care of at that time

    • Brian Martin

      If the Cowboys end up being out of the playoff race, I would shut down Tyron Smith. He’s too valuable to the team and needs to get healthy.

  • Russ_Te

    Smith may have some good years left, but even if so Dallas has no solution behind him for OT, and that one fact has blown this season up. So, yep it’s probably top draft priority > OT, RDE, WR / best available 1st round.

    Keep in mind that finding a quality LG is do-able / both Nate Newton and Ronald Leary were UFA walk-ons. So I keep trying there before moving Collins back to LG. Unless I hit on a project OT first.

    Now Then: Let’s look at whether it was a deft f’ing idea to play Green and then Bell at LT when Smith went out. Offensive coaches know those guys do not have lateral OT movement, sufficient to guard Dak’s blind side. Other moves? I’m flipping Collins over there first and Green or Bell to the less risk-prone RT spot.

    Pretty sure Zack Martin can play OT also. I probably also would have done that and put Green in his spot, as a stopgap until Smith gets back.

    Thanks Garrett, for making no adjustments when your team needs them. Butler, Gathers, Switzer – same thing. No new options in the route trees, when your starters are not getting open and Dak is getting killed. It’s rather clear now that defenses have solved the present passing-game model. They are have no problem stopping it. You have to change some of it out.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m only moving Collins if the Cowboys draft a tackle who can start right away. Otherwise, I’m keeping him at RT. I don’t think Collins would fare any better on the left side unfortunately.

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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