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Tyron Smith ruled out vs. Falcons, Cowboys must deploy patchwork plan in his absence

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Keeping Dak Prescott upright just got quite a bit more challenging for the Dallas Cowboys. The club headed into the Week 2 battle with the Atlanta Falcons trying to resolve issues at right tackle, with La’El Collins and backup swing tackle Cam Erving on injured reserve, but got another broomstick thrown into their bike spokes when left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a neck injury during individual drills in practice this week. The prognosis on Smith consistently devolved over the past few days, with the team going from optimistic and listing him as questionable on Friday to labeling him a game-time decision not long after.

The decision has now been made, and the perennial All-Pro has been ruled out against the Falcons.

This creates a cavernous void at the left edge and the Cowboys have no choice but to deploy some new faces to help however they can. The team poached Alex Light from the Arizona Cardinals practice squad and promoted Eric Smith from their own 16-man unit following the move to send cornerback Anthony Brown to IR with a rib injury — taking their IR tally to a league-most nine bodies. Undrafted rookie Terence Steele will get the start at one of the edges, to be determined, in the absence of Collins, Erving and now Smith. Brandon Knight will flex as needed between spelling Zack Martin and swinging between both edges, but is also an option to start opposite Steele.

Light, by the way, is inactive as well.

Needless to say, Martin and the consistent play of center Joe Looney aside, this is all less than ideal for a team set to face Grady Jarrett, Takkarist McKinley and Dante Fowler, the latter having racked up 11.5 sacks for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. And it’s the very Rams who gave the Cowboys offensive line some fits in Week 1, sacking Prescott a total of three times. With Smith sidelined this week, stopping the Falcons pass rush to allow Prescott time to take advantage of a questionable secondary won’t be easy, to say the least.

The team is looking into a possible reunion with Ronald Leary — putting him through COVID-19 protocol this weekend ahead of a scheduled workout — to help them repair the offensive line. A return of Leary would see him inserted as starting left guard and potentially move Connor Williams to tackle, a position Williams primarily played at Texas.

Leary can’t do anything to help stop the Falcons defense on Sunday, however, leaving the Cowboys to patch together a quilt they can only hope blankets the Atlanta pass rush. Doing so will greatly decrease their chances of starting the young season with an 0-2 record. 



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