At 21, Dallas Cowboys' Tyron Smith becoming quality player, leader

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 08, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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OXNARD, Calif. -- This sounds hard to believe, but Tyron Smith gets pushed around at Dallas Cowboys training camp.

In a one-on-one drill, Tyrone Crawford bull-rushed him into a backpedal.

In a play from scrimmage, DeMarcus Ware put him on his back and roared past him.

But Smith comes right back and wins the next play, or maybe the one after.

The former No. 1 pick is getting all kinds of lessons in his first year at left tackle, the premier position on the offensive line. And right now, in training camp as he faces one of the NFL's premier pass rushers, that's what he wants.

He is not asking Ware or anybody else to take it easy on him.

"I don't want him to," he said.

Smith's reaction to the competition, and the leadership he is subtly showing, is giving him an even higher stature as he enters his second year with the Cowboys.

He is becoming as much an example of the type of player coach Jason Garrett is looking for as tight end Jason Witten, quarterback Tony Romo, running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Sean Lee.

He is becoming a core player and a core leader.

"I take pride in that," Witten said. "Those guys have obviously seen the way to do things, and they're a big part of our football team.

"We've got some good young players who are good leaders in how they play and how they handle themselves. Tyron is one of those guys."

And he's only 21.

Still the youngest player on the team.

"He's only 21, but he seems to be growing every day physically and also as a player," Garrett said.

Murray said, "We're still young, but Tyron came from USC, a very prideful program that has produced a lot of great players."

So offensive line coach Bill Callahan isn't surprised when Smith reacts professionally to getting beaten on a play.

"You can't say enough about his poise and his temperament," Callahan said. "He's even-keeled, but he's highly competitive. He doesn't want to get beat. When he wins, he doesn't get overexuberant. He's steady. And that's what I like about him. Good, bad or indifferent, he's the same guy. You can count on that, day in and day out. You like that from a coach's standpoint."

Smith said he has been studying his technique from last year on the right side so he knows what he did to get out of his stance quickly and what footwork he used.

"I feel more comfortable compared to last year," he said. "I came in, all over the place, not knowing what's going on. Just having the OTAs and minicamps helped out a lot. Having an off-season program, working with the guys, helped out a lot."

Smith said Ware is not holding secrets from him. They have helped each other work on their techniques.

"Since he knows I feel comfortable, know more what I'm doing now, we can kind of help each other out," Smith said. "He teaches me how to beat his moves, so we're just competing every time."

Ware said it's easy for two players who go against each other a lot, as he and Smith do, to get used to each other's moves. But he said he has noticed an improvement in Smith's technique since he moved to the left side.

"He has all the athleticism in the world, but when you stop and clean up the little mistakes that you have, you know, you just start playing really well like he's been doing," Ware said. "I think the sky's the limit for a guy like him. He's going to be like that thing we call a lockdown corner. He's doing really good."

That doesn't sound as hard to believe.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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