Dak Prescott faced the same situation Tyler Smith will be facing when he suits up for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. Prescott was an unproven rookie heading into his first NFL game, thrown into the fire after Tony Romo went down in the preseason with a back injury.
The Cowboys' chances to make the playoffs looked dismal. All Prescott did was win offensive rookie of the year honors as the Cowboys won the NFC East with a 13-3 record.
Smith will face the same scenario as Prescott in a premium position. Tyron Smith is out until December with a torn hamstring, throwing Smith to the wolves as the Cowboys' lone hope at left tackle -- the anchor of an offensive line that's already had to replace two starters in Connor Williams and La'el Collins.
Prescott isn't worried how Smith will fare. He knows from experience.
"When you hang around Tyler, you see the competitor, the fighter. You see the football player – the grit," Prescott said, via the Cowboys website. "I expect him to be prepared. I was in his position (six) years ago. If there's anyone who is supporting the next man up and is about that mentality, it's me. I'm here to support him and give him the most confidence that he needs."
When Prescott took over as starting quarterback for Romo, he completed 67.8% of his passes for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions -- while also rushing for six touchdowns. Prescott was selected to the Pro Bowl and finished sixth in MVP voting, not bad for a fourth-round pick.
A 2022 first-round pick, the Cowboys drafted Smith to be the heir apparent to Smith. The time is now.
"Left tackle has always been my primary position since high school," Smith said. "It's not something that's foreign to me. I was talking to Zack (Martin) about it and he said, 'this is going to be one of the best things for your career. You've been out there at guard and know how to play guard.
"And now you're moving back to your home position. Having the ability to move to different spots is going to be good for your career.' So it's definitely been good for sure."