Cowboys LT Tyron Smith has a setback, could be shut down for remainder of year

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In a file photo, Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) jogs out for warmups before the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 12, 2019. - Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/TNS

FRISCO, Texas — Not only is Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, but there is a chance that the left tackle’s neck injury might be so severe that he could be done for the season, coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday.

The NFL Network reported that Smith is gathering medical information on his neck and one of the options being considered is a complete shutdown. No final decision had been made as of Thursday afternoon.

Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones confirmed the report.

“Right now, it’s a big, big question. All things are on the table,” Jones said to the team’s website. “We have to look at Tyron’s best interest for his career. He’s been battling this. He’s everything you want in a man. He’s everything you want in a left tackle.”

Smith played all 82 offensive snaps last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns after missing the previous two games with neck stingers.

But he did not practice Wednesday and Thursday this week and is not a guarantee for Sunday.

“He’s further back than he was this time last week, would be the best way to describe it,” McCarthy said.

Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams said Smith’s limitations due to the neck injury are something they plan to exploit.

“That is something we noticed on film is that he’s been dealing with an injury. You can kind of see it in film, so we were looking to get after that,” Williams said to the Giants media.

If Smith doesn’t play Sunday, it will be his third missed game in the first five weeks of the season. He has missed at least three games in each of the last five seasons.

“Of course, he wants to be out there helping his teammates,” Jones said of Smith. “But it seems like it’s one foot forward, and two steps back so far with that injury that he’s fighting. We’ll have to really look at that over the coming days and work with Tyron, work with the doctors and decide what’s in his best interest.”

The Cowboys have already lost right tackle La’el Collins for the season due to hip surgery.

And so now the question is how the Cowboys will proceed up front if Smith can’t play Sunday.

Brandon Knight, who replaced Smith at left tackle against the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, replaced Terence Steele at right tackle against the Cleveland Browns. They could start Knight and Steele at tackle. Jordan Mills is also an option.

The Cowboys got some good news of sorts when linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was cleared to do a little more in practice on Thursday and participate in some padded work.

It’s unlikely he would return this Sunday, just four weeks after fracturing his collarbone in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. The recovery time required for that type of injury is normally six to eight weeks, however, McCarthy said Vander Esch is ahead of schedule and didn’t rule out a possible return.

“Frankly it will be interesting to see, this is his first day in pads, so we have to get over this hurdle first before we can start thinking about that,” McCarthy said. “I think the way he comes in tomorrow, the way he feels doing the work that he’s going through will all be a part of that.

“He’s definitely champing at the bit to get back, there’s no question about that,” McCarthy added. “But obviously there’s medical procedures and processes that he must go through and clear. But the doctors and the trainers feel really good about where he is.”

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