The Dallas Cowboys' offensive line is on the mend, but it will be without left tackle Tyron Smith in Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.
It's expected right guard Zack Martin and center Tyler Biadasz will play, but both starters are questionable.
It's an ironic turn of events given Martin and Biadasz were ruled out on the final injury report last week, while Smith was in full uniform and named the offense's captain for the game before he was a shocking last-minute scratch.
Mike McCarthy doesn't suspect Tyron Smith will need to go on injured reserve. In fact, the head coach thinks the veteran could suit up again next week. In the meantime, it's not a crazy idea to consider an alternative to Chuma Edoga, who took his lumps against the Cardinals filling in at left tackle.
Seemingly all of Cowboys Nation has volunteered Tyler Smith as tribute. For whatever reason, though, the second-year lineman has practiced exclusively at his familiar left guard this week.
Cowboys not starting Tyler Smith at left tackle in place of Tyron Smith is frustrating
Assuming Smith was honest, it's difficult to wrap your mind around him not taking any snaps at left tackle. Tyron Smith hadn't practiced all week and McCarthy and the front office never gave the impression he'd play against the Patriots.
It's just baffling why McCarthy is so against this, assuming it's his call. Edoga was limited in practice all week with an elbow injury, so it's not like the Cowboys' preferred Smith replacement was a sure thing to start when the week began.
If Biadasz and Martin play, whomever Dallas appoints at left guard -- whether it be Edoga, Asim Richards or T.J. Bass -- can handle their own. It's essentially a choice between Smith or Edoga at left tackle, which is far and away the more important position. Smith is the pick every single time.
In Week 3 against the Cardinals, Edoga allowed three pressures, two hurries, a quarterback hit, and was flagged for a false start, per Pro Football Focus.
While they did damage in the game, Arizona's defensive front is nothing to write home about. The Patriots are a stark improvement in that department with Matt Judon, Josh Uche and Keion White coming off the edge.
We'd much rather take our chances with Smith against that edge group.
Tyron Smith's long-term health is the bigger concern, but the decision to start Edoga in his place instead of Tyler Smith (again, assuming that's what happens) is a frustrating one -- akin to when the Cowboys discussed moving Terence Steele to left guard and the younger Smith out to left tackle in the offseason.