Cowboys throw fans maddening curveball with OL alignment at OTAs
By Jerry Trotta
The Dallas Cowboys participated in their second practice of OTAs Thursday.
There were several noteworthy takeaways from the practice, including some players working out at new positions, but one particular development was met with protest and eye rolls on social media, and understandably so.
Zack Martin was present for the session, but didn't practice, while Terence Steele, who looks great, worked to the side as he recovers from ACL surgery.
Down two starters on the right side of the offensive line, Dallas surprised just about everyone with their first-team starters. From left to right, it went Tyler Smith at left tackle (!), Matt Farniok at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Matt Waletzko at right guard and Tyron Smith at right tackle (!).
While there normally wouldn't be cause for overreaction two days into voluntary practices, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News imitated the Cowboys are focused on playing Tyler Smith at left tackle.
That is a huge deal.
Tyler Smith playing left tackle at Cowboys OTAs, Tyron Smith at right tackle
Tyler Smith playing left tackle isn't the issue. The 2022 first-round pick took his lumps at the position as a rookie but showed plenty of promise. It's the domino effect it has on the rest of the offensive line, particularly with the right side.
With the younger Smith being focused at LT, Gehlken later said it would "surprise" if the elder statesman (if healthy) started at right tackle.
Stephen Jones told reporters last week that the Cowboys will start their best five offensive linemen next season. The executive VP even mentioned those players by name: the two Smith's, Martin, Steele and Biadasz.
By process of elimination, that makes Steele the favorite to start at left guard, which is maddening given how he played at RT last season before the injury.
So much for sanity and common sense seizing the day.
If Steele is healthy, he should be the right tackle. It's that simple. The Cowboys have multi-year starters across the line (at LT, RG, RT, and C) and a budding stud in Tyler Smith who played guard and left tackle at high levels as a rookie.
How about more simplicity? Steele is a batter right tackle than Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith is the best guard on the roster not named Zack Martin. The team's "best 5" linemen are as clear as day, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to identify the positions they should play.
Sadly, the Cowboys are thinking outside the box when it's entirely unnecessary. We normally wouldn't overreact at the onset of OTAs, but Gelken's batting average is as high as anyone on the Cowboys beat.