FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith is having season-ending neck surgery, another blow to a Dallas offensive line that will be without both starting tackles for the rest of the year.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday Smith’s injury was a “correctable situation,” but didn’t get into any timelines on when the seven-time Pro Bowler might be ready in the offseason.
Smith injured his neck in practice the week after the opener and missed two games before returning and playing all 82 snaps in last week’s 49-38 loss to Cleveland. Dallas (1-3) is at home against the winless New York Giants on Sunday.
The Cowboys have been without right tackle La’el Collins all season because of a hip issue that ended up requiring season-ending surgery. Dallas also has been without backup tackle Cameron Erving, who injured a knee in the opener but could be close to returning.
Smith’s durability hasn’t been quite the same after the 2011 first-round pick played all but one game over his first five seasons. Smith has missed three games in each of the previous four years with a variety of injuries. Neck problems were among the issues.
The 29-year-old Smith has four years remaining on the $98 million, eight-year extension he signed in 2014.
“I haven’t talked timelines or timetables,” McCarthy said said. “Frankly just my communication has been with our medical staff, our athletic trainers and most importantly Tyron. I think it’s just important he gets the surgery. He wants to get it as soon as he can and he wants to get to work on the rehab process.”
A pair of young undrafted players in Terence Steele and Brandon Knight have taken most of the snaps at both tackle spots this season.
It’s possible that four-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin will move to tackle, at least until Erving is ready to return. Martin played right tackle in the second half of a 38-31 loss to Seattle when Steele, a rookie, was sick. It was the first time Martin had played tackle since the 2014 first-round pick was at Notre Dame.
The Cowboys have also had injury issues at center after six-year starter Travis Frederick retired in the offseason. Joe Looney injured his right knee on the first play against the Browns. Rookie Tyler Biadasz, a fourth-round pick, should get his first career start against the Giants.
Because of injuries and illness, left guard Connor Williams is the only Dallas lineman who has stayed in his primary position all season for a once-steady unit in a rare state of flux after years of being considered among the best in the league.