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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
What Went Right: Tyron Smith took over at right tackle

By Calvin Watkins

This is the second installment in ESPN Dallas' five-part series on things that went right for the Dallas Cowboys in 2011.

Tyron Smith
Smith emerged as a force along an offensive line that struggled during the 2010 season. He improved as the season went on, using his long arms and quick feet to hold off pass rushers.
4. Tyron Smith takes over at right tackle

When the Cowboys drafted Tyron Smith, ninth overall, the goal was to make him a right tackle with the potential to move him to left tackle in the future.

There was some concern he could do it, but when the team released veteran Marc Colombo, it forced the Cowboys to view Smith as the starting right tackle. Colombo performed badly in 2009 and the Cowboys needed to upgrade this position.

Smith emerged as a force along an offensive line that struggled during the 2010 season. Yes, Smith was penalized eight times, but he had two stretches of four and five weeks where he didn't get flagged.

He improved as the season went on, especially when defending twists, spin and power moves. Smith used his long arms and quick feet to hold off pass rushers. The Cowboys were not afraid to run off the tackles with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones, and as the season progressed right guard Kyle Kosier didn't help Smith as much with communication.

The big picture has Smith moving to the left tackle spot over Doug Free, who was inconsistent in 2011. Smith has the athletic ability to play left tackle because he took on elite pass rushers on a regular basis last year.

Hudson Houck, the Cowboys offensive line coach, said Smith improved throughout the season but wouldn't say if the rookie would move to left tackle. But it appears things are headed that way.

With the season over, Smith, after getting some rest, will work out with agent and former offensive line coach Joe Panos on his techniques and gain strength. He doesn't need to pick up weight (307), but if he gets stronger, he has a strong chance to remain a force along the offensive line.