Cowboys LT Tyron Smith suffers avulsion fracture of knee, out until at least December

The Dallas Cowboys will be without Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith for a significant stretch to open the season.

Smith suffered an avulsion fracture of the knee in Wednesday's practice and needs surgery, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday. Smith won't be back on the field until December, if at all this season. Rapoport later reported that Smith is set to undergo surgery on Friday.

The 31-year-old went down in practice with a non-contact injury but was able to walk off under his own power.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said during a Thursday appearance on ESPN's First Take that he expects Smith to be back at some point this season -- potentially the playoffs.

"We'll have him and we'll have him at the right time," Jones said. "We'll have him in that San Francisco game -- the equivalent of that we had last year -- and maybe we won't fall short."

While the Cowboys have gotten used to playing without the eight-time Pro Bowler, who has missed 20 games the past two seasons and hasn't played an entire season since 2015, it's a massive blow to Dak Prescott's blind side.

Dallas drafted Tyler Smith, who played left tackle in college, to be the eventual heir on the blind side, but he's worked at left guard during training camp and preseason. The rookie also has been dealing with an injury of late. Josh Ball, a fourth-round pick in 2021 who struggled last season, has taken reps at left tackle when Tyron Smith has been out. The Cowboys also have fifth-round rookie Matt Waletzko and Aviante Collins as options at LT.

Once the strength of the Cowboys, the offensive line has deteriorated in recent seasons. Smith's injury is the latest setback for a Dallas club seeking to defend its NFC East crown. More pressure will be heaped on Prescott's shoulders to carry the injury-marred Cowboys.

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