DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys appear ready to hand the reins to Terence Steele at left tackle again as Tyron Smith is sidelined for a second consecutive week.
The All-Pro left tackle is working through a bone spur in his ankle that knocked him out just before halftime in the Cowboys' 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8. Although Ty Nsekhe played in Smith's absence against the Vikings, the Cowboys moved Steele to left tackle for Week 9 and placed La'el Collins at his usual right tackle spot as he worked his way back from a five-game suspension.
Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Friday that Smith's availability for Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons would be dependent on how he looked in the Saturday walkthrough. However, hours later, the Cowboys ruled Smith out for the Week 10 matchup.
Steele, a 2020 undrafted free agent from Texas Tech, has been getting all of the first-team work at left tackle in preparation for Atlanta, and working to improve upon his pedestrian outing against the Denver Broncos in last Sunday’s 30-16 loss.
"I just took a different approach this week to my angles and my sets," said Steele. "I think last week I was trying to make it too much like my right. It's just different."
One solution would be to take Collins, who played left tackle in college, and move him to the left side and keep Steele at right tackle, where he has started in each game of the six-game winning streak. Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones explained that such a move would mess with the continuity of the line.
"When you start changing those players around, you mess with the continuity," Jones told "K&C Masterpiece" on 105.3 "The Fan" Friday. "It’s a real thing. And you mess with the way they communicate, the way they signal each other, the nuances."
Steele has been relying on Smith's experience to guide him as he makes the temporary transition to protect quarterback Dak Prescott's blindside.
"He's always in the background watching me," said Steele. "Every walkthrough, I know he's there keeping me — whatever he sees, he'll correct me."
According to Jones, the Cowboys are being cautious with Smith and expect to have him back soon, along with better offensive line play against the Falcons.
"I think that we’ll have better line play period — I really do — than we had just from the awareness of what happened to us last week in the offensive line," Jones said.
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