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September 30, 2019

Cowboys may be without one of their most important players for a while

The Dallas Cowboys didn't just take their first loss of the season Sunday night. They may have also lost one of the most important players on the team in starting LT Tyron Smith, for a while.

Late in the fourth quarter in New Orleans, Saints DT David Onyemata sacked Dak Prescott, who fell into Smith's lower right leg. Here's the best video quality I could find of the play:

Smith hobbled off the field with help from medical staff, did not return, and reportedly needed a cart at some point.

David Helman of the Cowboys' website reported that Jerry Jones referred to Smith's injury as "a high ankle situation."

If in fact Jones is indicating that Smith has a high ankle sprain, it's likely he'll be out for at least a month, and probably more. He was in a walking boot leaving the stadium.

Smith has missed three games in each of the last three seasons, though each of the last three season has yielded meaningless Week 17 games that probably shouldn't count toward that tally. In the six games since 2016 that Smith has definitively missed as a result of an injury, the Cowboys have a 4-2 record.

• They beat the Saints and Washington in the two games he missed in 2018.

• They got blown out by the Falcons and Eagles in the two games he missed in 2017, and his absence was easily the biggest reason why.

• They beat the Bears and 49ers in the two games he missed in 2016.  

Because he entered the league when he was barely 20 years old, Smith is still only 28 years old (he'll turn 29 in December), but he is now in his ninth NFL season, and has started 122 games. That ranks sixth among active NFL offensive tackles, behind Andrew Whitworth, Jason Peters, Donald Penn, Joe Staley, and Duane Brown, per 

If Smith has to miss games as a result of this injury, his replacement will likely be Cameron Fleming, who filled in for Smith Sunday night. That is a drastic downgrade, and Fleming immediately struggled when he was unexpectedly forced into action late in New Orleans.

The Cowboys' next four weeks look like this:

  1. Week 5: Packers, at home
  2. Week 6: At Jets
  3. Week 7: Eagles, at home
  4. Week 8: BYE

The NFC East standings now look like this after Week 4:

 TeamRecord Division 
 Cowboys3-1 2-0 
 Eagles2-2 1-0 
 Giants2-2 1-1 
 Washington0-4 0-3

MORE: What they're saying: Whether it's Jalen Ramsey or someone else, Eagles need cornerback help

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