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December 03, 2013

From pass protection to fumble recoveries, Tyron Smith playing at Pro Bowl level: 'A fantastic player,' Garrett says

Jason Garrett said there is no doubt about Tyron Smith playing at Pro Bowl level this year.

“There’s no question in my mind. He’s a fantastic player,” Garrett said.

Smith proved his value to the Cowboys again last week, not only as their left tackle but in recovering a fumble in the second quarter that let the Cowboys keep a touchdown drive alive.

Garrett said it is an example of Smith’s awareness and his athleticism.

“Tyron’s a very good athlete, so he can run. He can get to some of those balls,” Garrett said. “But there’s no question he’s aware. And I think the biggest thing you ask your linemen to do is finish the down. You know, oftentimes those guys are blocking their guy, whether it’s a run or a pass, and they’re kind of stuck on their assignment. But the play continues. I think it’s hard to ask an offensive lineman to run 60 yards down the field play after play after play at their size. But you want them moving towards the ball, and when you have a lot of people moving towards the ball, whether it’s on offense or defense, usually good things happen.

“On that fumble recovery the other day, he just was aware. And the ball came out, he was looking at it, he went towards it. He made a heck of a play, a very athletic play, to recover that ball.”

Smith said, “It’s our mentality. Run down the field after the play is over with. That’s all it is. Just being aware that anything can happen.”

Smith has drawn four penalties, three for a false start and one for holding, and allowed only one sack in 12 starts. Last year, he had 10 penalties (seven false start, two holding) and allowed three sacks.

As a rookie at right tackle, he had seven penalties (four false start, three holding) and allowed nine sacks.

Smith has missed only one game with the Cowboys. Garrett said the 23-year-old is influencing the other players on the line, like guard Ron Leary.

“Tyron is a young guy, but you know, relative to Ron, he is an experienced guy,” Garrett said. “He has played a lot and is certainly the more veteran presence over there. I think he does help. I think he helps him most by the demeanor with which he plays. And Ron Leary is a very naturally tough guy. He plays with an edge to him. We think that is a good. That is what stands out about him, as does Tyron. And Tyron plays well technically. But some of the things that separate him are the ability to just to play with the physical nature, both as a pass protector and as a run blocker. That has a positive impact on Ron and the other guys.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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