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Jerry Jones: Cowboys 'Want to Look from Within' for Tyron Smith Injury Replacement

Adam WellsAugust 26, 2022

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys intend to explore their internal options to find a starting left tackle in the wake of Tyron Smith's injury.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters on Friday they "want to look from within" for Smith's replacement.

"That's the smartest and logical way to do it," Jones said. "... This gives us a chance to get a lot of reps, we got to learn to play with these younger guys, and we will. Our skill players will take up some of the slack."

Smith could miss the entire 2022 season after suffering an avulsion fracture in his left knee during Wednesday's practice, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

If the Cowboys are going to rely on players currently on their roster, there are a number of directions they can go.

Tyler Smith, the team's first-round draft pick in 2022, did work at left guard and tackle during organized team activities. Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters early in training camp he wanted to give the 21-year-old "most" of his reps at guard to "build some continuity and comfort there."

Since Tyron Smith is now unavailable, Tyler could potentially move to the outside if the team feels he is ready to handle that responsibility.

If McCarthy and the coaching staff feel that is putting too much on a rookie, they can keep Smith at guard and shift other players into different roles.

ESPN's Todd Archer noted Terence Steele, who was projected to start at right tackle, could move to the left side. He started six games at the position in 2021 when Tyron Smith was out due to injuries.

If Steele switches sides on the offensive line, Archer listed Josh Ball, Matt Waletzko or Aviante Collins as options at right tackle.

Collins is the only player from that group who has played in an NFL game, but it was back in 2019 with the Minnesota Vikings. He spent most of 2020 on Minnesota's practice. The Cowboys signed him to their practice squad prior to the start of last season. He was given a reserve/future contract from the team in January.

Ball redshirted as a rookie after being selected in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. Waletzko is a rookie fifth-round pick out of North Dakota.

The Cowboys do have more than enough cap space available ($21.5 million, per Over the Cap) to either make a trade or sign one of the remaining free-agent tackles if they wanted to go in that direction.

Jason Peters, Eric Fisher and Nate Solder are among the notable free agents with experience at left tackle still available.

The Cowboys could use their final preseason game to evaluate the readiness of those internal options to replace Smith. They host the Seattle Seahawks on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

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