The news looked promising for Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith to suit up and start against Kansas City on Sunday… right up until it didn’t. After being limited in practice during the week and participating in the team’s Friday mock game, head coach Mike McCarthy was “hopeful” that the seven-time Pro Bowler would have a solid practice session on Saturday and be declared fit for play Sunday.
But in the early-morning hours on gameday, reports surfaced that Smith would be inactive for a third straight game thanks to a bone spur issue in his ankle.
Start the news cycle over again. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones announced Monday on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan that, “we feel really good about him playing this week.”
Although the team did not practice Monday, the Cowboys issued an injury report, estimating players’ statuses as if they had. Smith was listed as “limited.”
Cowboys filed an injury report today for Thursday’s game vs. Raiders. Participation levels are estimated as if team practiced. WR CeeDee Lamb (concussion) and S Donovan Wilson (shoulder/chest) non-participants. Limited: RB Ezekiel Elliott (knee) and LT Tyron Smith (ankle). pic.twitter.com/5x8hBoTtBo
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 22, 2021
Of the late decision to sit Smith in Week 11, Jones said, “It’s just, you know, the full body of work there. [Cowboys associate athletic trainer/director of rehabilitation] Britt Brown, who I think is one of the best in the business at getting these guys ready to play, and Tyron, and working through it with him, we just didn’t feel like he was quite ready to go yet and didn’t want to have one of those things where we got him out there and he had to start over again.”
Jones also acknowledged that the Cowboys’ short week before hosting Las Vegas on Thursday played into the decision to not push Smith’s ankle too far, with the club then heading into a span of three games in 12 days. Four divisional games and a tilt against Arizona that could have postseason-bye implications follow that to close out the regular schedule.
“I think it’s the full body of work,” Jones reiterated. “You put everything into the equation and you make the decision. But I think the bigger decision right there was how he felt leading up to the game. We really felt like we needed to get him some practice in. He got a little bit in, but not a lot. He was still feeling it to some degree, and you have to take note of that. Certainly, we’ve got to do everything we think is in our best interest for the entirety of the season, and I don’t think this is anything that we’re going to have to manage, not unlike Dak [Prescott]. Same as Dak, we just feel like once he’s ready to roll, he’ll be ready to go. We feel like he’s ready, and barring some unforeseen setback this week, he should be ready to play this Thursday.”
Terence Steele subbed in again for Smith on Sunday; Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked by the Chiefs five times. The team all but abandoned the run game, with rushers Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard combining for just 82 yards on 16 carries.
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