Cowboys Jerry Jones hopes OT Tyron Smith shakes off rust against Buccaneers

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is expecting big things from lineman Tyron Smith in the playoffs with a few games under his belt following Week 15 return.

DALLAS — January is the time for new year, new you, and with the super wild-card weekend ahead, it makes for the perfect chance for NFL playoff teams to begin new year resolutions.

Since returning to the Dallas Cowboys after a torn hamstring sustained near the end of preseason, tackle Tyron Smith has played four games at right tackle in place of Terence Steele. The third-year starter from Texas Tech tore his ACL in Week 14. While the season-ending injury provided an opening for the All-Pro Smith to return to the offensive line, it has come at a price as the Cowboys have looked to mesh a new cohesion in run-blocking.

“I think Terence is having an outstanding career above expectation, which says a lot, because it’s pretty important,” Dallas owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones told “K&C Masterpiece” on 105.3 “The Fan” Friday [KRLD-FM]. “It’s pretty impressive to be a starting right tackle in the NFL. And, so, first of all, he’s playing to a high level. Anytime you got a player like that, you’re going to miss him when he’s not out there.”

Steele started 13 games at right tackle before the injury during the 27-23 win over the Houston Texans. Since Steele’s injury, the Cowboys have not had a 100-yard rusher between Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott. Furthermore, the offense as a whole has not crested the century mark on the ground in the past two games.

While the Cowboys have enjoyed meritorious seasons from Smith, a former 2011 first-round pick from USC, they know his run-blocking still needs some improvement.

“Now, we were fortunate to have Tyron Smith available to be out there. And Tyron Smith has had some really, really outstanding plays,” Jones said. “He’s ahead of things regarding his pass protection. He’s really working and getting into our run-blocking. I look for him to continually improve as, if you will, the proverbial rust or whatever you want to call it, as he gets back into where he was at the start of the season, which I think he could be Monday night.”

Dallas visits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium for the NFC Wild Card on Monday night. While Jones acknowledged Smith has areas to improve in his run game protection, he isn’t putting the entire onus of the postseason encounter on Smith’s play.

“I think that we all, as a team, not just him, when you say ‘he has to improve,’ can we win out there without everybody doing their best? As we get into the playoffs, it’s unlikely,” Jones said. “But I think that if he plays at the level that he’s very capable of playing right now. Take some of the things he didn’t do as well last Sunday out, but put some of the things he did well last Sunday and get more of those in, and, yeah, that will win it.”

The Cowboys have not won a road playoff game since the 1992 NFC Championship, and they are 0-7 all-time against quarterback Tom Brady. However, Dallas owns a 2-0 record in the playoffs against the Bucs.

Do you think the offensive line will hold up for the Cowboys on Monday night? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.


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