<
>

Cowboys 'cartoon-character' Tyron Smith seems to have super powers

FRISCO, Texas -- Legend has it that when Anthony Munoz was the Cincinnati Bengals' left tackle, the coaches would simply erase the name of the defensive end Munoz would go against that week in their game plan.

Munoz, who may be the best left tackle ever to play, was that good.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't as presumptuous to do that to whoever Tyron Smith goes against each week, but they often feel like regardless of who Smith sees, he will win the matchup. They don't need to slide protections Smith's way or send a running back to chip or a tight end to help.

As much as the Cowboys have missed Ezekiel Elliott the last two games, they might have missed Smith, who has been out with a groin strain, more.

The Cowboys are expected to have their security blanket back Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

"It's great," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "It's great for him mentally just to get back. I know he's healthy and just get back there and get some reps. Great for this offense."

Maybe not so great for Chargers defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

"Just look at the man," said Bosa, who has 10.5 sacks. "He's like a cartoon character, a freaking test-tube baby. It's unbelievable the size of him. You just look at him from the beginning he's got athleticism and size. Just the way he is athletically you'd think he'd be a big mauler but he really isn't. He's just a technician and you can tell he's a well-rounded vet that's blessed with some freakish athletic ability to go along with it."

Smith has been bothered by back tightness, a hip strain and the groin injury this season. It is the second straight season he has missed two games because of injury. The Cowboys were able to beat the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers without Smith in 2016. This season, they have lost to the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles by a combined 64-16. Prescott has been sacked 12 times in the two games. In the first eight games of the season he was not sacked more than twice in a game.

"Tyron is a great player and an important piece of our group, not only for what he does on the field, which obviously is very important, but also for what he does off the field and in the meeting rooms," center Travis Frederick said. "You don't hear him speak a lot and we don't hear him speak a lot. He speaks to us a little more than he does to [the media], but it's who he is as a person and how he conducts himself, teaches young guys and continuously reminds some of us older guys who to approach the game."