The Dallas Cowboys suffered a significant blow to their 2022 aspirations on Thursday when it was learned that left tackle Tyron Smith tore a hamstring and is expected to miss significant time, ESPN reported.
More specifically, according to NFL Network, Smith suffered an avulsion of the hamstring tendon while trying to block linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The Dallas Morning News reported that Smith is expected to undergo surgery to repair the hamstring on Friday.
Reports Wednesday after Smith left the practice field were focused around his left knee, and an initial review indicated the ACL was still intact. Smith was seen leaving the practice facility without a noticeable limp.
But the Cowboys’ worst fears were realized Thursday morning.
“An avulsion of the hamstring tendon in the knee is rare, but one that does require surgery,” said The 33rd Team’s Dr. Jess Flynn, who doesn’t anticipate a return for Smith any earlier than December, if at all in 2022. “Smith will have surgery to reattach his hamstring tendon. The bone must heal and withstand high forces.
“He could be back at end of the season,” Flynn continued, “but that’s certainly not a guarantee. My hope is that he would be close to 100 percent by next season.”
Team owner Jerry Jones told ESPN’s First Take Thursday morning that he’s anticipating 2022 first-round draft pick Tyler Smith stepping up in Smith’s absence, but he has been dealing with an injury (ankle) of his own. He played tackle at Tulsa and took reps at the position during organized team activities and minicamp, but in training camp he had been in competition for the starting left guard position.
The Cowboys also drafted Matt Waletzko out of North Dakota State in the fifth round earlier this year, but he, too, has been dealing with injuries and is also viewed as a developmental prospect.
“We’ve played a lot of games without Tyron, [but] not as successfully as we do with him,” Jones said. “But in the meantime, we’ve got a guy named Tyler Smith who’s come on the scene.”
Quarterback Dak Prescott has actually performed exceptionally well in games without his all-pro tackle. Prescott is 12-5 with a 104.3 passer rating in the last 17 games he has played without Smith.
As teams trim their roster to the mandated 53 players by next Tuesday, veterans offensive linemen will no doubt be cut around the league, but the Cowboys could be more proactive by acquiring a replacement for Tyron Smith in a trade.
“The issue should be concerning for the Cowboys,” said T.J. McCreight, director of scouting for The 33rd Team. “(Smith) has been an exceptional player but has missed games due to injuries the last six years. Not only do the Cowboys have to find and prepare a replacement but also come to grips with the fact that one of their core player is nearing the end. “
While Smith has dealt with a multitude of injuries the past several seasons — he has played in only 13 games since 2020 and hasn’t played a full season since 2015 — Flynn doesn’t connect this latest injury to the one’s that have slowed Smith in the past.
“This falls in the category of a freak injury,” Flynn said. “A football injury in a very strong athlete, sometimes the muscle is stronger than the tendon and they just tear. We see that with Achilles ruptures all the time. This is just an unfortunate byproduct of the game of football.”
|Date Injured||Body Part||Side||Diagnosis||In-game||Games Missed|
|12/24/2017||Knee||Right||Reaggravated knee injury LCL sprain||Yes||1|
|9/29/2019||Ankle||Right||High Ankle Sprain||Yes||2|
|9/16/2020||Neck||Undisclosed required surgery||No||12|
|12/21/2021||Ankle||Left||Reaggravated previous ankle injury (bone spur)||Yes||2|
The injury to Smith happened on a day Jones told reporters some positive injury news about the team, that Michael Gallup would avoid placement on the PUP (physically able to perform) list to start the season, giving the wide receiver a shot at playing in Week 1.