10:55am: Confirming the team’s worst fears, Steele has suffered a torn ACL (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). That will end his season, and leave the Cowboys with a significant hole to fill on the right side of their o-line.
9:59am: The Cowboys survived an upset scare versus the Texans on Sunday, but their offensive line lost a starter for what could be an extended stretch. Right tackle Terence Steele suffered what is feared to be serious knee injury, as noted (on Twitter) by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Steele, 25, was assured the full-time right tackle role this offseason when the Cowboys let La’el Collins depart in free agency. The Texas Tech alum had seen plenty of playing time prior to that, of course, but the decision represented a vote of confidence in him. To date, Steele had proven to be worthy of the first-team role, continuing his career progression.
The former UDFA earned an underwhelming PFF grade as a rookie, but took a step forward last year. That continued into 2022, as Steele’s 75.3 rating ranks him in the top 20 in the NFL amongst offensive tackles. Any extended absence would therefore be notable for Dallas and their offense; Rapoport adds that more will be known following Steele’s MRI.
In more positive news for the Cowboys, Tyron Smith could suit up in Week 15 against the Jaguars. The eight-time Pro Bowler returned to practice this past week, opening the team’s three-week window within which they must activate him if he is to play in 2022. Rapoport notes that Smith made sufficient progress during the week that suiting up against Jacksonville is “very possible.” That would provide the team with a significant boost up front, and help offset any absence necessitated by Steele’s injury.
Smith’s return, it is already known, will see him take up his familiar spot as a blindside protector. That will move first-round rookie Tyler Smith inside, giving the team several other options at guard including Connor McGovern and veteran free agent signing Jason Peters. How they respond at the spot opposite Tyron Smith, however, could be worth watching in the latter stages of the regular season.