Cowboys OL depth takes early blow with Matt Waletzko injury

Cowboys OL depth takes early blow with Matt Waletzko injury

The Dallas Cowboys avoided going the veteran route this season; Something that is unfamiliar in recent constructions of the depth of the offensive line. The club generally has an experienced swing tackle to support the likes of Tyron Smith and formerly L’El Collins. In 2018 and 2019 it was Cam Fleming. 2020 brought on Cam Irving and 2021 saw Ty Naseekhe as an import. However, the lost 2020 season for Collins came about in the early career of UDFA Terrence Steele, who worked for Collins during his suspension in 2021 and released the former LSU product this past spring. As free agency has come and gone, Dallas decided against the vet swing on the roster.

Part of that, as recently explained by executive VP Stephen Jones, is the club’s confidence in the youth corps of tackles they have earned. The first 2021 fourth-round pick was Josh Ball, who reimagined his rookie year. Dallas made a fifth-round pick from North Dakota, along with Matt Waltzko. The club seemed really upbeat about both their prospects, but may now need to re-evaluate their stance on veteran depth. Waletzko suffered a shoulder injury in training camp’s second practice on Thursday and, although not requiring surgery, will apparently miss several months.

For a small-school rookie, missing training camp for a chance to contribute to Year 1 can be a death sentence. The pace and strength of the game is hard enough to get used to. Recalling the repetition in camp and preseason and then relying on the guy who is on edge to protect $40 million a year QB Dak Prescott probably wouldn’t be the wisest idea.

Dallas has a contingency plan, of course. First-round pick Tyler Smith was a tackle in Tulsa and is seen by some as a possible successor to Tyron Smith in a left tackle. Conor McGovern or any other inside depth man can get out if needed while moving the lineup on right guard.

According to Jones, in the first off-season, the ball is seen as the right tackle for now and will back Steele.

If Waltzko is placed on the off-season roster, the club will have the option of keeping him on the 53-man roster and then moving him to the IR. So he can play anytime during the season. If the club puts him on the IR now, his season is over.

Eviant Collins and Amon Simon are other tackles on the roster, the latter a UDFA from Texas A&M Commerce and the former a fourth-year vet who has spent time with New Orleans in the past.

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The story originally appeared on Cowboy Wire

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