When the Dallas Cowboys were done in Denver it seemed more apparent than ever that this team is in critical need of depth at the tackle position. Josh Ball was not exactly ready for the challenge presented. This would be fine for a player experiencing the professional game for the first time if they were coming along as a developmental prospect on a team, but there is more at stake here. Ball is currently the main candidate to be the team’s swing tackle behind Tyron Smith. Yes, the Tyron Smith who has missed time six years in a row.
Needless to say swing tackle is an important position around these parts so Ball on his own is not enough. In the Cowboys’ defense, their plan was not for him to go at it alone but rather to compete with fifth-round rookie Matt Waletzko who unfortunately was hurt at the beginning of camp.
It seems like it may be a while before we see Waletzko in any serious capacity.
Matt Waletzko looks destined for injured reserve early on
What is ailing Waletzko at the moment is a shoulder injury. Incidentally this is an issue that stems back to his time in college so it is unfortunately something that he is a bit familiar with.
Tuesday night a report from The Dallas Morning News stated that Waletzko is progressing which is good, but that he will inevitably need surgery. What’s more is the report suggested (as many 53-man roster predictions throughout Cowboys land have as well) that Waletzko is bound for injured reserve early on in his career.
Cowboys rookie offensive tackle Matt Waletzko will need surgery at some point to address a recurring shoulder injury, but weeks of rest and rehabilitation have gone well enough to defer that procedure, preserving hope for him to play in 2022, two people familiar with his progress said.
Waletzko first suffered the subluxation, or shoulder-joint dislocation, as a North Dakota senior.
He rehabbed the injury and impressed in early February at the Senior Bowl, showing enough promise to become the Cowboys’ first of four fifth-round draft picks. But on July 28, early in training camp’s second practice, he aggravated the injury in a rudimentary drill.
Waletzko has not returned to practice and won’t imminently. Barring a setback, he is expected to make the Cowboys’ initial 53-man roster on Aug. 30. He might then be a candidate for placement on injured reserve, which would require him to miss at least four games before potential activation.
At best the Cowboys are looking at getting back (at a point we don’t know yet by the way) a rookie fifth-round pick who will still need shoulder surgery. That does not seem like the type of stable ground that you want to build your swing tackle (or anything else) on.
Perhaps the team was waiting to see the exact situation on Waletzko before blinking, but this all continues to underscore how necessary it is for the Cowboys to bring in another tackle option (or options) to compete with Ball for reserve roles. If you are curious as to who is available, David Howman wrote about six names earlier in the day on Tuesday.
To be frank, the Ball-Waletzko plan was not exactly the best one possible even before it had been tasked with weathering any sort of storm. This is a position in which many have wondered about Dallas’ line of thought, but whatever they are trying to do their hand is starting to become forced.