Cowboys Pro Bowler Smith to return to practice

FRISCO, Texas — While the Dallas Cowboys officially began their courting of free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Monday, they could have a more important addition soon with the return of Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith.

Smith suffered a torn hamstring in one of the final training camp practices and required surgery. When the Cowboys practice Wednesday, the six-time Pro Bowler will participate in his first session of the regular season. The Cowboys will have three weeks of practice with Smith before needing to activate him off injured reserve or keep him there for the season.

He has been increasing his rehab work in the past few weeks, and with the Cowboys not getting any padded practices this week, it is possible he could return Dec. 18 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I think the biggest thing is just to get him back out there,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “So we’re obviously looking forward to Tryon being back out there Wednesday.”

Rookie Tyler Smith has started every game at left tackle, although in recent weeks, he has seen work at left guard in anticipation of Tyron Smith’s return.

“I can’t think of any single thing that could help a football team more than to have Tyron Smith come in healthy at left tackle. I really can’t,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “So right there is the biggest lift that you could draw up for the Dallas Cowboys without exception.”

Jones also said Ezekiel Elliott‘s starting streak ended at 97 games because of a minor disciplinary issue, although he did not give the exact details. Elliott had said after Sunday’s game that the Cowboys just decided to mix up the rotation between him and Tony Pollard.

“I think those type of things, whatever extent it was, those are really situations for the locker room,” McCarthy said. “I know we’re in the everything-is-available, content-creating environment, but I don’t think this is one of those cases.”

McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore praised Elliott, who had 38 snaps compared to Pollard’s 28 and finished with 77 yards rushing on 17 carries and a touchdown. Pollard had 91 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.

“Zeke’s a rock star,” Moore said. “He’s handled this season phenomenal. … Those guys complement each other really well, work off each other, feed off each other. They’re on the field at times together and they support each other. We’re very, very fortunate to have those guys.”

The Cowboys don’t know whether they will have Beckham, who has already visited with the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills, as he works back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered in February in Super Bowl LVI.

On Monday, he went through the medical process and was scheduled to attend the Dallas Mavericks‘ game that night. On Tuesday, he is expected to meet with the Cowboys’ player leadership council.

“This is clearly unique because of the timing of it,” McCarthy said. “I’ve never been part of something like this, this late in the season. I think just like anything until you sit down in front of one another and everybody gets the information, you truly don’t know exactly where everything stands, but, definitely, he’s been to two other clubs and I’m glad he’s here. And we’ll see how it goes.”

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