Cowboys starting left tackle Tyron Smith is reportedly slated for surgery and in jeopardy of missing the entire 2022 season after tests revealed the injury he suffered in practice on Wednesday was more severe than initially thought.
Smith has been diagnosed with an avulsion fracture in his left knee, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The two-time All-Pro could feasibly return in December "if all goes perfectly" in his recovery.
Smith, 31, was first thought to have suffered a torn hamstring, which is also a serious injury but likely wouldn't have required surgery.
The loss of Smith marks another shakeup on the Cowboys' offensive line, after the team cut veteran former starting right tackle La'el Collins during the offseason.
The Cowboys drafted Tyler Smith in the first round and Matt Waletzko in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft but didn't add any other veteran tackles in the offseason to protect themselves in case Smith missed time.
According to Rapoport, Tyler Smith's "time could be coming" unless the Cowboys make a signing or trade to account for the loss of Tyron Smith.
Tyron Smith, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has missed 32 games over the past six seasons due to a variety of injuries.
2021 fourth-round pick Josh Ball, who has yet to play in an NFL game, was expected to start the season as the team's swing tackle, but Smith's injury might force him into the starting lineup in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, barring the team bringing in a player from outside the organization, which they presumably will now do.
Another option would be to have Tyler Smith move out to left tackle, the position the team envisions him playing in the future after he made 23 starts at that spot in his time at Tulsa. There is a potential roadblock to that plan for the time being, however, as Smith missed the last two practices with a "minor ankle injury."
The Cowboys' plan entering the season was to have Smith play guard in 2022 with Tyron Smith cemented at starting left tackle. The younger Smith is currently in a battle with Connor McGovern for the starting job at left guard.
Regardless of the direction they go, this is a major setback for Jerry Jones and company.